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Both the materials and pavilion-style architecture of this beach house reinforce a simple, laid-back lifestyle

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Anyone who has ever camped under canvas will remember how easy it is to simply roll up one side of the tent to open it up to the great outdoors. That indoor-outdoor connection is echoed in the design of this beach house, which is essentially two linked pavilions that can be peeled back to maximise the light and views.

Designed by architect David Sutherland of Tanner Architects, the house is situated at one end of a picturesque beach north of Sydney. Sutherland says although the house needed to meet the needs of the client, who required a simply styled holiday home, the design was also influenced by consideration for the neighbours's views and light, and by the view from the water back to the house.

"We wanted the house to fit in with the beach vernacular, although the immediate neighbourhood is very mixed in terms of the architectural style of the houses. The older houses in the area have quite simple, traditional forms, and this helped determine the look of the two pavilions and the roof line. The painted weatherboards and stone wall on the beach side also reference typical beach houses of the past."

Sutherland says it was important to ensure the house would not be an obtrusive presence in the landscape. To this end, the top level was set back several metres.

"When viewed from the beach and water, it seems to be a much smaller residence – it's a respectful approach," he says.

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From the front entry, there is a strong axis running right through to the main living room. The architect designed this as a breezeway that can be completely opened up to the outdoors on one side. Just inside the entry, the breezeway forms a wide deck area with bifolding slatted Western red cedar doors lined with flyscreen mesh. To enhance cross ventilation, a guest suite can be opened up to the deck. Even with the shutters secured, there is plenty of fresh air.

"The breezeway links the various areas of the house," says Sutherland. "It also maximises the light and the link with the outdoors, and allows a layering of the living spaces, which provides multiple living zones for the family."

Large sliding glass doors open up the far end of the breezeway and the living area, reinforcing the sense of an open-air pavilion. Doors open onto a courtyard on the north side, which is an alternative outdoor living area sheltered from the sea breeze.

The sense of space is further enhanced by internal sliding windows and doors that open up the second living area to the breezeway.

"This room also has windows into a narrow recessed area between the two pavilions," says Sutherland. "Although the design created a greater wall area, it allowed more windows. The tall louvre windows provide even more cross ventilation and the owners never seem to use the air conditioning system."

In the main living room, which faces the sea, the raked ceiling follows the roofline, creating a very spacious, airy interior. In keeping with the traditional beach house feel, both the ceiling and the walls are lined with painted V-jointed timber boards that provide a bold textural look.

The clean, simple lines of the architecture are repeated in the design of the kitchen, which features lacquered cabinetry and a 4m-long island wrapped in Calacatta marble. The perimeter benchtop is sleek stainless steel. Openings either side of the rear wall of the kitchen lead to a walk-in pantry and a small passage leading to a powder room and laundry.

The main axis through the house continues on this side, with timber stairs and a boardwalk extending out like a long finger towards the beach and sea.

First published date: 13 April 2011

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Credit List

Architect David Sutherland AIA, Tanner Architects (Sydney)
Builder Ian Westlake Building
Kitchen manufacturer AGN Joinery
Landscape designer Geoffrey Britton
Landscape contractor Wilson Pederson Landscapes
Paving Sandstone
Decking Boral spotted gum
Exterior lighting Lumascape
Roofing Colorbond custom orb
Flooring Boral
Paints and varnishes Dulux; Silkens; Murobond
Feature lighting Targetti
Air conditioning Charmy
Doors and windows Customline Joinery
Window and door hardware Parisi; Madinoz; Henderson
External aluminium blinds JWI Louvres
Drapes Silent Gliss; master bedroom by Form and Colour
Furniture and soft furnishings Form and Colour – designer Wende Reid
Kitchen cabinetry Two-pot lacquer
Benchtops Calacatta Extra marble; custom stainless steel
Splashback Colour-backed glass
Taps Blanco
Oven and cooktop Ilve
Ventilation Qasair
Refrigeration Fisher & Paykel