Fortress House

March 24, 2009

Designed by ITN Architects, this coastal house offers a private retreat inspired by the form and materials of the typical Australian weekender.

This coastal house was designed as a literal interpretation of the clientÂ’’s initial brief. They requested a very private retreat, anti-social, even unfriendly to the street, as a counterpoint to their sociable city lives.

The only two windows to the street frontage are deep set and high, allowing no interior views, and the main first floor entry is reached via a six-metre bridge. It is only once beyond this foreboding threshold that the house gradually begins to open up to the surrounding tea-tree covered dunes, with carefully selected views. This comes to a dramatic conclusion with the 6.5-metre-tall window at the far end of the central spine of the house.

The form and materials of the building draw on the 1950s to 1970s Australian weekender, with added luxury only in the generosity of the interior spaces. The no-fuss raw timber exterior combined with rusted steel balustrades will streak and fade with time, slowly taking on the grey and olive of the surrounding vegetation.

The minimal palette of the all-timber exterior, and the timber and white concrete and plaster interior, was selected to avoid any high gloss contemporary finishes.

The interior is simple and robust, and designed to accommodate the old op shop furniture and relaxed messiness that is an enjoyable part of the beach house experience.

Although it was a frustrating six years from conception to completion, it is one of the most satisfying projects I have worked on, where the both the clients and builder worked very hard to get the best result possible, with a relatively small budget.

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