“Our clients, a couple with two children, wanted a house that was connected to the reserve but that also felt private, a challenge given we are hemmed in with apartments on one side and houses on the other,” says designer Matt Krusin, a principal of Tobias Partners. Given this connection to the environment, there are raised concrete beds that frame the house and fences to neighbouring properties have been discarded. “You often see long-nosed bandicoots walking through the garden,” says Krusin.
Given the issue of privacy, Tobias Partners designed what appears to be a monumental concrete home from the street (rendered masonry) with an in-situ concrete blade wall ‘piercing’ the glazing on the ground level. However, when one enters the house, the views unfold, along with the home’s transparency, assisted by generous skylights. “Our clients also used the words ‘effortless living’ in our initial discussions,” says Krusin, who created a series of interlocking spaces at ground level that connect strongly to the garden and terraces.
The kitchen, located at the heart of the ground floor plan, is referred to as ‘mission control’ by Krusin. Featuring a Carrara marble island bench and timber veneer joinery, it opens to a protected terrace that’s flanked by angular masonry walls. Adjacent to the kitchen are the open plan dining and living areas, delineated by a double-sided glass fireplace and exposed flu. The ground level also includes a separate guest wing with another living area that’s used by guests as well as the children. Clad with timber battens, this wing, like the masonry walls, appears to ‘float’ above the native coastal grasses (conceived by landscape architect Volker Klemm). “We were also mindful of building in a bushfire zone so limited the use of timber,” says Krusin.
Although the Collins Beach house touches the terrain lightly, the material palette is robust. Masonry walls, oak floors and exposed concrete ceilings create a monumental design. Even the treads to the first floor, leading to the main and children’s bedrooms, are concrete, creating a strong contrast to the home’s glazed entry. And given the location, with its impressive views, there’s a second living area on the first floor. This area also doubles as a home office when it is not being used by the children.
Tobias Partners also endowed this beach house with generous polished plastered walls. This not only adds another texture to the home, but also allows the light from above to continually reflect and animate the interiors. “There’s always a constant play between the materials, whether it’s the stucco lustro (polished plaster) or seeing the structure,” says Krusin, pointing out the chunky concrete beams that appear through the skylights in the spine of the house.
When you’re in the house, you are immediately aware of the surrounds and the 180-degree-view that the property offers. Whether one is in the sitting area attached to the guest suite or enjoying relaxing next to the fireplace, you could easily be in a beach house that’s miles from town. And although it’s a relatively large house, around 50 squares, the three interlocking wings provide for easy living. “It’s only when you leave (the garage is concealed behind the timber battened walls and forms part of the guest wing) that you’re reminded of exactly where you are,” adds Krusin.