Perched on the coastal dunes of eastern Victoria near Sandy Point, a small beachside township three hours from Melbourne, this family holiday home is gracefully embedded in the natural landscape courtesy of Australian practice Kennedy Nolan Architects. Taking a cue from Sandy Point’s character, a community of unassuming dwellings and dirt roads, the architects opted for a modest form and subdued materiality that responds to the site’s morphology and climate, as well as taking into account the family traditions of beachside habitation.
The house is primarily built of timber suitable to its bushfire prone setting, with the exterior designed in grey in order to be eventually camouflaged amongst the rolling sand dunes. Unfolding across several levels due to the steep terrain, the house is centred on a protected inner courtyard designed as a refuge from the prevailing local winds and a mediator of the house’s level changes, as well as a communal space at the heart of the family’s beachside experience.
Used as an entrance vestibule, the courtyard also connects the four zones the house is divided into: a living and dining area, master bedroom, children/guest wing, and bathroom. With no internal connection between these zones, family members and guests have to pass through the central space which, in effect, “supports a nuanced social experience in much the same way a cloister traditionally works” as the architects explain. The pinwheel configuration also evokes a sense of always being together without sacrificing the need for privacy, offering seclusion in the separate zones but also facilitating encounters either in an organised or a perchance way.
In combination with a minimalist interior design, the extensive use of timber, both for building fabric and furniture, imbues the house with a Nordic aesthetic. Sage and grey-painted timber wall cladding complement natural wood finishes, while stone floor tiles, rattan carpets, cotton fabrics and leather textures complete the subdued palette of natural materials and earthy hues. Sloping timber-clad ceilings that reflect the building’s steep terrain echo the morphology of the coastline through their arched shape, thereby deepening the bond between the house and the natural landscape. With plenty of places to gather around, nooks to retreat to, and views to look out onto, Sandy Point House unassumingly embodies the family’s “idealised coastal experience”.