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Focused on the views but sheltered from the fiercest sun, this seaside home's simple form belies its strategic make-up


Sometimes the simplicity of a home's appearance can fail to give a true indication of the thought that went into designing it. In such cases, the true wisdom of its well-considered elements may not become apparent until the owners move in and appreciate its open views and day-to-day comfort at their leisure.

This beach house, by architect Richard Szklarz, is a strategic reaction to both its environment and the client's need for an easy family lifestyle – almost coincidentally, the home has a strong sculptural appeal.

Several factors were addressed by the architect that contributed to the home's distinctive, contemporary appearance.

"With interceding dunes a potential impediment between the site and the ocean views, I designed a two-level home, with the living areas located upstairs," says Szklarz. "The home is fronted with an extended wall of glass on the ocean side, which creates one long viewing platform."

On the opposite, less scenic side of the residence, the views are effectively closed down – with only small windows and a copper mesh feature screen in evidence. The screen admits natural light onto the kitchen's work surfaces inside but limits visual connection to the street.


"This low-maintenance mesh will develop a patina over time, creating its own history. In addition, ivy will grow up through the mesh, creating a leafy screen that changes with the seasons," he says.

The home is built in a climate where the sun can be cruel as well as kind, so the design offers a careful response to solar gain.

"While the home faces north to the waves, the roof slopes downwards from east to west," he says. "At the higher eastern end, a mild morning sun is admitted in controlled form through horizontal slit windows – both under the eaves and midway up the wall. This lower window was specifically placed to allow sunlight to glance across the dining table inside.

"The western wall, however, presents a smaller, windowless face to the harsh afternoon sun, helping to keep the house cool. On the northern, scenic side the roof overhang also provides valuable shade."

The home's interior accurately follows, or even directs, the family's lifestyle. While parents sleep upstairs, children and guests are given their own private kingdom downstairs. Thus the views are best appreciated by grownup eyes and the beach is the shortest possible scamper away for adolescent feet. Throughout the home form follows function – even the external stairs providing a dusting-off for sandy feet before they ascend to the living areas.

Like the copper mesh feature, the residence is largely maintenance free. This is a god-send in a home designed for getting away from it all. The materials are uniform and durable, both inside and out, and the colour palette is equally uncomplicated – another plus when the residence's main star is intended to be the scenery.

On the exterior, concrete plaster offers a neutral-look, highly durable surface, while on the interior, a glass-faced cement render finish holds sway – right through the home.

"This textured finish is created from natural cement mixed with yellow sand and then applied with a steel trowel," says Szklarz. "The result is a highly polished, hard-wearing, and water-resistant surface, well suited to a seaside getaway."

Similarly, fully vitrified floor tiles are found throughout the floors of the home, even forming the floors of the shower stalls and the treads of the external stairs.

Generally, the interior lines are kept simple, as with the materials palette, in deference to the scenery. However, a wave-shaped bulkhead provides homage to the seaside location and shadowlines provide a pencil-thin negative detail.

"Introducing shadowlines allowed for the near-meeting of the ceiling plaster and glass cement, without the design clutter of connecting cornices," he says.

From its sturdy galvanised garage door on one side to the seamless glass balustrade fronting the sea on the other, this home is literally made for its surroundings.

First published date: 31 March 2007

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Credit List

Architect Richard Szklarz, RAIA, Richard Szklarz Architects (Perth, WA)
Builder ER + LU Szklarz
Window and door joinery Shelley Glass
Window and door hardware Architectural Design Hardware
Floors Rhine tiles from Forezzi Tiles
Wallcoverings Cement render, steel trowel finish
Paint Solver
Lighting Illumination
Heating Rylex Airconditioning
Furniture Baileys
Control systems C-Bus
Kitchen designer Richard Szklarz Architects
Kitchen manufacturers KD Woodcraft
Cabinets New Age Veneer
Benchtop and splashback Trafficstone Arena
Sink Oliveri
Taps Grohe
Oven, hob, microwave, refrigerator and dishwasher Miele
Feature screen Copper pipes
Vanity cabinetry KD Woodcraft
Bath Kaldewei
Basin Vitra