- Article by Brewster Hjorth Architects
- Architect Brewster Hjorth Architects
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The Freshwater House sits beside the beach at North Freshwater on Sydney’s northern beaches. The very small site has a dramatic outlook over the beach and ocean towards North Head. The building is conceived as a weathered timber crate – jetsam tossed up on a rocky headland, providing cave-like shelter below a raised viewing platform. Its architecture refers to the ad-hoc beachside environment and the local precedents of rough shacks constructed on the rocks at the base of nearby headland cliffs.
The organisation of the site is based around the family members’ needs for both privacy and togetherness. It achieves this by placing the bedrooms apart from each other with their own outlooks, and providing for gathering on the elevated platforms to enjoy the prospect above the noise and bustle of the beachside setting. Despite the exposed nature of the site, protected and secluded spaces are created by the use of highly adjustable enclosing walls and screens. An internal courtyard surrounded by concrete walls provides separation from the proximity of surrounding homes. An elevated living plane sits on steel pilotis to provide a wide prospect of the beach and ocean headland. The top level combines an elevated roof top terrace with the parents’ retreat.
The building expresses its materiality using a palette of concrete, hardwood, glass and copper left in their raw state. The internal environment embodies a feeling of ease, layering complex finishes over the palette of raw materials which have been revealed inside, to create a relaxed family home.
Drainage is often the forgotten workhorse of the building and design function. Yet drainage maintains a simple albeit vital purpose.