Best of est | Timber-clad Beach Houses

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    We take a second look at six uniquely-designed timber-clad beach houses showcased on est.

    We’ve seen a number of prolific, global designers apply timber to the exterior of their coastal projects. Known for its durability, natural sustainability and simplistic qualities; timber embraces one of nature’s most versatile and best-loved materials – which always stands the test of time.

    These timber-clad beach houses deserve another look as they celebrate and explore how the age-old material of wood can be applied in innovative architectural forms. Creating contemporary, coastal abodes rich with warmth and patina, each of these homes echoes longevity and an authentic connection back to the land.

    Dunes by Whiting Architects

    The environment was at the core of every design decision for Whiting Architects when it came to breathing new life and liveability into an old family beach house on the Mornington Peninsula. While it most obviously involved exploiting the ocean vista, Whiting Architects considered Summer and Winter conditions equally. With the location set amongst the sand dunes and facing the Bass Strait, the materials selected for the timber-clad home were informed by the year-round, harsh weather elements that it faces.

    Alongside the natural environment and weather conditions, Whiting Architects and the client were also conscious of the home’s sustainable footprint and sought to minimise waste wherever possible during the process. The designers retained existing walls and materials where they could and introduced double-glazing windows, while timber batten screens and timber arbours were introduced to soften the stark cladding and simultaneously reduce Summer heat.

    Inside, nautical-inspired, natural materials were selected for their durability and the locally-sourced timber and stone. These components not only reflect the home’s environment and exterior but will develop an interesting and beautifully weathered patina over time – much like its exterior.

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    Seaside Abode by Norm Architects

    Norm Architects are all about tapping into the unspoilt nature of the world around us while providing comfortable shelter from it and this aptly-named Seaside Abode overlooking the ocean of North Zealand is just that. The Northern part of the Danish island of Zealand, just an hour from Copenhagen, is a popular holiday location of seaside towns, fishing villages and historic castles. Here on a sequestered site, Norm Architects completed the renovation of an existing coastal cottage.

    Blurring the lines between the inside and out, Norm Architects have applied natural materials including wood to the interior and exterior of this seaside home. The panoramic floor-to-ceiling windows facing outwards draw in the spectacular views and drench the home in natural light, while the oak timber-cladding ensures a lived-in cosiness and understated luxury that Norm Architects are so well-loved for. The studio sought to portray “the simple beauty of things related to nature”, and have beautifully re-invigorated this home with a warmth and integrity inspired by the natural Danish terrain that surrounds it.

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    The Clubhouse by Wolveridge Architects

    The Clubhouse takes up a pristine position in the dunes of Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, overlooking the fairways and surrounds of the Sorrento Golf Club. Wolveridge Architects offered their deft-hand towards renewing their client’s childhood holiday spot after years of travel abroad. From concept to completion, the designers kept climate front-of-mind, working towards sustainable and low maintenance solutions wherever possible. Nestled snuggly into the dunes and set among the tea-tree scrub, this timber-clad beach house was constructed deep into the undulating land, leaving it elevated for exceptional views across the golf course and beyond.

    Also paramount to the project was the creation of a luxury upper-level suite that included a landscaped outdoor area and cantilevered pool. Here, protected outdoor spaces have been incorporated to fully appreciate the landscape design that showcases the coastal dune flora, native to the area.

    Everyday comforts and high-end design selections sit alongside some statement-making pieces inside, which together, make this home appear more like a stylish permanent residence than a holiday home.

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    South African Beach House

    On the shores of a lagoon in South Africa’s Plettenberg Bay, this family home has truly earned its title as “The Ark”, providing the perfect break away for a surf-obsessed family. Combining sustainable materials with easy, modern living, it takes the ‘beach shack’ concept to a whole new level.

    Designed by Tessa van Schaik of The Planet Thing alongside architect Luke Brown, the home’s concrete structure was softened with timber cladding. Tessa van Schaik is passionate about the use of sustainable timber in architecture and the resulting hunt for materials was a rewarding one, with beautiful Oregan pine discovered at a nearby demolition site. A combination of South African pine was used for the flooring and iroko on the balconies. Tessa also used slatted wood elements on the outer facades of the house – in part to meet the brief of a ‘surfer shack’ but also to infuse the south-facing property with as much light as possible.

    The design also handled the simple request to have space to put surfboards, while the garage doubles as a kid’s den with bunks flanking the walls, a ping pong table and enough space for friends to hang out. Just like name the house has inherited, there’s enough place for everyone and everything.

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    Sandy Point Beach House by Kennedy Nolan

    Nestled within the rugged, coastal dunes of eastern Victoria in Australia, this family holiday home by Melbourne-based Kennedy Nolan Architects, has been designed with extended, year-round stays front of mind. Clad completely in a timber selected for its grey colouration which develops over time, the home blends in perfectly with the indigenous plants that surround it, drawing an even deeper connection to a place which has evolved with family traditions.

    Unfolding across three different levels to account for the rolling dunes, Sandy Point House showcases a modest yet robust design which has been cleverly embedded into its landscape to idealise the coastal experience.

    Providing refuge from the often harsh elements, the house is centred around an internal courtyard which offers protection and promotes social interaction. There are no internal connections, so guests are encouraged to move from their private bedrooms outside to move between zones, an arrangement which aims to endorse a grounding, sensory awareness of place.

    Bluff Reach by Butler Armsden Architects

    The Sonoma County is known for its valley wine region and rugged Pacific coastline, dotted by towering redwoods. Here, the Bluff Reach home takes up a prime spot in the Sonoma County Sea Ranch community, on a jagged cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean. But the vista isn’t the only thing on its side — the home’s been blessed with design intervention from Butler Armsden Architects. Spoilt with ocean views and soaring timber proportions, the San Francisco couple that lives here have all the key elements for a secluded coastal retreat.

    The Bluff Reach home was first designed by Ralph Matheson and renovated in 1990 by William Turnbull Jnr. Structurally, edits made to the plan by Butler Armsden were minimal. A new top floor addition is accessed through the powder-coated steel staircase in the living room, leading to a tower housing a new office. Views from the bedroom and family room are let in through smaller openings that match the boxy protrusions of the exterior.

    In line with the Sea Ranch philosophy, the exterior is entirely clad in cedar timber. On the inside, the white-washed vertical planks of Douglas fir wrap the ceilings and walls and are underscored by the natural light. It’s the beautiful blur between the built and the natural, smooth and sharp and interior and exterior which make this home — and its inhabitants — feel entirely at ease in Sea Ranch.

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