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Queenscliff House

Queenscliff House

John wardle Architects
Queenscliff, Australia | View Map
Project Year
Private Houses
Trevor Mein

Queenscliff House

John wardle Architects as Architects

This house acts as an optical instrument, a series of devices that frame views beyond the abutting foreshore to the south toward the Heads of Port Phillip Bay. The most significant promenade through the site, and house itself, takes you from the street along a gently stepped path to the entry stair which then elevates you sufficiently to appreciate the view as you arrive at the uppermost level.

The careful choreography of this sequence is amplified by materiality and adjacencies. Fine timber detailing alongside the path, woven wicker within the stair and Calacatta marble in the kitchen. The experience on entry is private and cocooned from the exterior. Once above, the views expand and are focussed on the horizon of the ocean to the south. A challenge for Victorian coastal houses is to reconcile the southern views with northern solar orientation. In this instance, a courtyard has been introduced to gain northern aspect to the living spaces and to capture the afternoon sun within an environment shielded from the strong southerlies. The principal bedroom is oriented south stealing ocean views through the main living pavilion and across the courtyard.

The house is conceived as three joined pavilions, each two storeys high in appearance when viewed from the street. This strategy reduces bulk and suggests a more intimate residential typology that is essentially coastal in nature. Careful planning to allow for privacy between parents and adult children on a narrow site was important. The main living and dining space is where family and friends come together. In this way, the house is designed for a busy family life, allowing for both privacy and communal gathering.

When designing the residence the key decisions related to choosing durable materials able to withstand the coastal environment. Materially, the house explores the nature, colour and detailing of Spotted Gum hardwood. Solid cladding is combined with delicate layers of screens and shutters, and impressed onto an in situ concrete base. The ‘timber hedge’ that greets the visitor on arrival to the house is at once dense and permeable, carefully crafted, and softly weathering. The direct visual connection between the interior and the sea encourages the contemplation of ships crossing the Heads en route to distant ports, a relaxing retreat from work.

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