by Neometro

That Scandinavian Sensibility

Architecture - by Stephen Crafti

There’s probably only a few vacant sites on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, particularly since it has become a drawcard for those wanting an escape in a relatively short time. This plot is one of those, a stone’s throw from Sorrento’s front beach. The only features on the gently sloping site are banks of Moonah trees. “There aren’t the water vistas but the site is well-endowed with trees, something that meant a great deal to the owner and his late wife,” says architect Mark Richards. “She loved nature and wanted to feel as close to it as possible,” he adds. The project was completed in collaboration with Moody Builders and Seaspray Homes.

Photo: Shannon McGrath

Originally from Eastern Europe, the owner’s wife also had an affinity for Scandinavian design, in particular the light timbers and the way natural light responded to it. “Her husband’s brief was more on the functional side, requesting a low-maintenance home, two bedrooms and studies, together with a lock-up garage for two cars,” says Richards.

While selecting appropriating materials was in Richards’ mind, his first thoughts centred on the aspect of the site, orientated at one corner to the northeast. “It’s a fairly orthogonal floor plan, but it has been slightly skewed to allow the northern light to penetrate the main living areas,” says Richards, who also elevated the single level home slightly above ground level to create a sense of ‘floating’ in the coastal landscape. And while the northeastern light is appreciated in the depths of winter, the deep eaves, clad in plywood and extending to 3.5 metres in width, provide protection from the sun during the warmer months of the year.

Photo: Shannon McGrath

Given the owners’ connection to nature, the exterior is also thoughtfully expressed in the interior spaces. A garden bed, for example, although a slither of a bed, pierces through the home’s glazed walls and appears in the dining area. Likewise, the pale stone feature wall, sourced locally, cuts a swathe through the house to delineate the open plan living areas from the two bedrooms and ensuites. “There’s a strong focus on natural materials, whether it’s timber or stone,” says Richards, who used parquetry timber for the floors and ebony- stained timber for many of the walls. The pale hoop pine ceiling creates a contrast to the darker timbers featured.

Photo: Shannon McGrath

In contrast to the timbered dining and living areas, the galley-style kitchen is almost entirely white. Two-pack-painted kitchen joinery is complemented with marble benches and splashbacks. Elongated windows, outlined in black steel, allow for vistas into the southern portion of the site. “Wherever you happen to stand in the house, you’re always conscious of the landscape,” says Richards, who saw the feature stone wall as an anchoring device as much as an aesthetic choice. “I also wanted to create a lightness to the home,” he adds, pointing to the dramatic roof that appears weightless against the home’s 4.5-metre-high glass walls.

Photo: Shannon McGrath

Unlike many beach houses and weekenders that have become ‘trophy homes’, the Sorrento house is relatively modest in scale (approximately 260 square metres) and fewer rather than endless rooms and corridors. The studies, for example, are open to main passage, allowing not only unimpeded sight lines, but also cross-ventilation.

Photo: Shannon McGrath

Although far from the ‘beach shack’, the Sorrento house does epitomise the direction of coastal properties. “Beach houses are becoming more sophisticated and people are wanting a higher level of amenity, something that could work as a beach house or become more of a permanent residence down the track,” says Richards, who sees the need for flexibility. And rather than fill the place with second-hand furniture that the family no longer wants, it’s an abode to enjoy with comfortable contemporary furniture, even when the sand finds its way in from the beach.

Mark Richards Architects can be contacted on 039690 7667

Seaspray Homes can be contacted via their website.


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