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Comprising two pavilions stepped down a steep site, this coastal home minimises the impact of Southerlies and makes the most of the view

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Often the design of a coastal home is driven by external factors. Maximising views and sunlight are two important considerations, and allowing for a steep site can be another – especially when also seeking shelter from prevailing southerly winds.

The home on these pages sits on a steep, south-facing coastal site. The brief from the owners was to create a comfortable family home that maximised the advantages of its surroundings, says project architect John Crawford of Crawford Architects.

"The home consists of two distinct pavilions, joined by a corridor of glass," says Crawford. "There were several advantages to the split design, all relating to the home's natural environment."

Firstly, it allowed sunlight to stream into the north-facing facades of both. Secondly, the space between the pavilions allowed for an internal courtyard that is sheltered from prevailing winds. An extensive use of glazing on the lower pavilion means occupants of the central courtyard can still appreciate the sea views beyond.

"Stepping the home down over two buildings also allowed the owners to access the home from the street above," says the architect. "The lower pavilion, by the same token, is in closer proximity to the beach."

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Entering the home from the upper level, a series of internal flights of stairs and steps on the linking corridor makes for an effortless descent towards the beach. On the outside of the home, an inclinator makes easy work of the steep up-hill journey.

The home's two-storey upper pavilion comprises spare bedrooms, a bathroom and the garage. The lower pavilion is the heart of the home, with kitchen, dining and living areas on the upper level and an internal staircase leading to the lower floor. On the lower level, the master bedroom looks out to sea, while an ensuite utilises the rear of this space.

The site's dropping terrain played an important part in the type of construction for the steel-framed home. Craned into place and bolted together, the frame made building the home an easier proposition on the steep 25º slope.

The home's situation dictated its form in other ways too.

"This design keeps within the 8.5m height restrictions for both pavilions," says Crawford. "The look of the roofs was also governed by the need to maximise the views, particularly from the upper pavilion."

A pyramid-shaped roof on the lower pavilion provided visual interest without interrupting the sea views enjoyed from the upper building.

"A flat roof would have lacked interest, while a gabled roof here would have partially obscured the scenery."

Louvred clerestory windows under the central roof section admit additional light and provide cross ventilation – cooling breezes enter through the pavilion's sliding glass doors and windows and exit under the eaves.

Another environmental issue was the home's proximity to the sea. The overhanging eaves provide shade for the home's interior, but also protection from falling sea spray.

"Marine grade stainless steel was used for the fittings on the glass balustrading to minimise the corrosive effects of the salt," says Crawford. "However, the maritime environment – sun, Southerlies and salt – plays an evolving role in the home's decking. The untreated hardwood decking weathers to a silvery grey over time, reminiscent of driftwood."

Again, the wood decking reinforces the home's nautical feel.

The interior is also directly influenced by the external environment. White v-jointed boarding features on the walls and ceiling of the lower pavilion, reminiscent of yachting timberwork.

Furnishings are kept simple in the seaside home. The dining table and bare floorboards complement the timber walls and ceiling.

"Built to make the most of a breath-taking coastline, in many ways this home's design is a product of the environment it looks out on," says Crawford.

First published date: 28 June 2005

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Credit List

Architect Crawford Architects (
Sydney); project team John Crawford, Gemma Peña
Interior designer and kitchen designer Crawford Architects
Builder Hicks + Paine Builders
Roof Corrugated iron
Flooring White ash from Barranjoey Timber
Paints Dulux
Kitchen sink Ceramic from Villeroy & Boch
Taps Revival by Kohler
Stove Smeg
Rangehood Smeg
Refrigerator GE
Dishwasher Fisher & Paykel DishDrawers
Accessories Toilet roll holders and towel rails in Revival by Kohler; heated towel rails by Hydrotherm, make-up mirror by Cinquecento, handles by Häfele
Shower fittings Kohler Mastershower Handshower and Slide Bar kit
Shower stall Frameless safety glass screen, chrome-plated fittings
Bath Milano by Kohler
Basin Calypso by Kohler, Omnia Series by Villeroy & Boch