Wolveridge Architects
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Project Year
Private Houses
Derek Swalwell


Wolveridge Architects as Architects

At concept inception, we were forced to reconcile with the design requirements of a residential golf estate and the somewhat mixed and emerging surrounding built form. The trapezoidal shape of the site combined with terrific outlooks to the north and south and a desire to avoid direct views either to or be viewed in from adjoining sites (one existing dwelling/one vacant site) to the east and west. This desire generated our key principle for the project that may describe the form as a number of linked containers.

Each container prescribed to a rigorous set of rules which included no windows or openings to the east or west, and to maximise the openings to the north and south. This idea informed the material choice for the project. The connection of each container and linking space between containers became a way to express a sense of delicacy and consideration to an otherwise unadorned building mass.

Public and Cultural Benefits

Although a private residence this dwelling challenges traditional notions of the streetscape as it appears during the day as two stacked forms clad with timber battens. There is no identifiable entry or windows and doors. In the evening, the battens become a filter for the series of illuminated cubicles which retain privacy and an alternative sense of engagement with the street.

Relationship of Built Form to Context

The container notion of the building form may have a stronger connection with the idea of a robust kind of machine for living, set in its own challenging environment. There are precedents for this approach, which ignore the common typology for domestic construction for the coastal condition. Given the sporadic and somewhat haphazard nature of the emerging local context, reinforced this idea or approach.

Program Resolution

The client brief was concise requiring two separate living spaces - summer and winter with a separate kitchen. These were the key considerations in the brief. The development of the cubicle idea, with its rigid dimensions enabled a program that provided habitable spaces within the containers and the linking spaces between became connectors and providers of natural light, ventilation, intimate outlooks and secondary zones such as entry, plant and bbq,

Integration of Allied Disciplines

The detailed design of the container required input from the structural engineer, builder (who came on board during concept stage), concrete panel fabricator and architect. The physical requirements of supporting cantilevered panels at first floor required significant consultation. The builder’s involvement in this and the resolution of the batten screens in detail was significant.

Cost/Value Outcome

Following an extended value engineering exercise, this project was constructed for a very reasonable cost considering the extent of detail and complexity. There was minimal variation during the project.


Double glazing, concrete slab, north orientation to living areas, containers provide maximum opportunity for cross ventilation, double glazing Response to Client and User needs Despite the robust external appearance of the building, the clients continue to refer to the dwelling as a ‘home’ as much as anything.


This project attempts to challenge our traditional notions of how buildings can exist both in a coastal environment and in this case also the context of an emerging built form and character.

In coastal conditions, buildings must be robust and defy the elements, yet create protective spaces, both internal and external which for us allow the occupants to feel safe, comfortable, privacy and enjoyment of good times. Whether the occupants are fulltime residents or weekenders, the beach house is a place to look forward to arriving, whether in the heat of the summer or the winter’s cold.

With excellent views to the north and south and a conscious motivation to avoid the east/west outlooks, this project evolved as a series of interconnected and robustly finished containers. Each prescribed to a rigid set of rules and the relationship and spaces between containers becoming essential to the program and to the life of the building.

The robust mass of the buildings is intended to be offset by the expression of finely considered detail and proportion.

It is the private spaces created in between that allow natural ventilation and light, intimate outlooks, and privacy for the occupants, a place to call home.


The construction of the containers avoided openings to the east and west and, as bookends to each, were constructed generally from insulated twin concrete panel.

The north and south of each container was constructed and clad from light frame materials and covered by a continuous western red cedar batten screen. The screens are operable, which lend a sense of activity in the building itself.

At 6.4m wide each container has openings for natural ventilation at north and south. all north facing openings are either protected with a large overhang or horizontal screen.

The living room is north facing and constructed on concrete slab which receives terrific low level winter's sun. The provision of the sleeping rooms at first floor contributes to maintaining a cool environment at ground level during the day. at night, all bedrooms can cross ventilate.

All windows are double glazed. The energy rating for the dwelling achieved 5 stars. 30,000 litres underground water storage was supplied to enable continued garden irrigation during warmer months.

Material selection considered durability and long term maintenance - spotted gum cladding, pre-finished using penetrating sealer, concrete panel end walls..

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