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Exposed to the elements

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This holiday home – situated on the second fairway of a golf course – is inspired by the surrounding flat plains and windswept tea trees

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The winds that hurtle across the golf course behind this house are so strong that the branches of the surrounding trees are forced to grow horizontally. With a dead-flat site providing no visual interest, architect Steven Cortese decided to take his inspiration from the dramatic shape of these trees.

"The blockwork and stone walls are the trunks of the trees, metaphorically anchoring the building to the ground, while the white floating roof planes are flat like the branches," he says.

To help combat the prevailing winds, the house is T-shaped, with the top of the T acting as a windbreak for the rest of the house. This also allowed for a protected deck and courtyard.

The house was commissioned by two families to use as a shared holiday home. When designing a home, Cortese works closely with his clients to ensure they can communicate exactly what they think the house should look like.

"To get into their heads, I often ask them to give me three words. Words are a nice way to explain what they're looking for aesthetically," he says.


As there were four clients, the words chosen for this house were: modern, functional, understated, clean lines, casual, and elegant. Cortese thinks these words best describe the style of the house.

The homeowners wanted to use the house year-round, so they needed a cosy communal living area.

"As the area has a harsh climate in the winter, they wanted to be able to hunker down around a fireplace," Cortese says.

They also planned on doing little cooking, so a basic but functional kitchen was all that the homeowners required.

With two families of four sharing the same space, another important design feature was that there was privacy between families, as well as privacy between adults and children.

The four bedrooms are all located at the head of the T-shape, with children downstairs and adults upstairs. Service areas, such as bathrooms and laundries, are used as noise buffers between bedrooms, and the stairwell functions as a transition space between the living and bedroom areas on both levels.

"Like spaces are stacked above each other and insulation is provided in the intermediatory floor to maintain acoustic privacy," Cortese says.

Environmentally sustainable design was also an important consideration for the clients. Cortese used concrete on the ground floor to give the building thermal mass, utilised a single-room-width floor plan for the living areas to allow cross-ventilation, and built very few windows on the windy side of the house.

Because they expected to use the house only on the weekends and school holidays, low maintenance materials were chosen. The split-faced blockwork walls require no maintenance, and the anodised aluminium window frames never need painting.

The choice of materials gives a natural, relaxed look to the house – fitting for a holiday location designed purely for rest and relaxation.

First published date: 30 August 2005

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Credit List

Architect Steven Cortese, RAIA, Baldasso Cortese Architects (Collingwood, Vic)
Builder Ashley Crowe Builders
Kitchen designer Baldasso Cortese Architects
Cladding Split-faced blockwork from Boral; random stone cladding from Castlemaine Sandstone; rendered brickwork and blueboard painted with Dulux Organic; timber cladding east wall and front door painted with Dulux Base Camp; timber cladding with Hardwood Ship-Lap lining
Louvres Adjustable aluminium louvres by Vental, natural anodised finish
Window and door joinery Geelong Windows, Capral Aluminium
Gutters, downpipes and trims Zincalume
Roof LBI, Kliplock 406, Zincalume finish
Carpet Godfrey Hirst Carpets, Sisal Ridge Sea Grass textured loop pile
Wallcoverings Boral plasterboard
Paints Dulux
Tiling Signorino
Floorboards Victorian Ash with three coats of polyurethane finish
Lighting Richmond Lighting, Eagle
Fireplace Jetmaster
Kitchen benchtops Quarella
Splashback Toughened glass
Sink Epure Orion
Taps Caroma Liano
Oven, cooktop, kitchen ventilation and microwave Smeg
Refrigerator Fisher and Paykel
Dishwasher Asko
Furniture Kings Furniture