Our client engaged us to design a three-storey residence on a 545 square metre block at Wyndham Harbour, one of the largest marinas on Port Phillip Bay. The third storey was necessary to capture harbour views and the project was given an allowable budget of $750,000.

Project Name: Wyndham Beach House
Studio Name: Sky Architect Studio Pty Ltd
Project Size: 301 m2
Site Size: 545 m2
Completion Date: 2020
Building Levels: 3
Location: Melbourne, Australia
Photography: David J Miller

©David J Miller

The elevated 545 square metre block is in close proximity to the Wyndham Harbour Marina, just two blocks away, and had the clear potential for a house to be built that would enjoy magnificent harbour views. The site is an irregular shape, however, which meant we needed to maximise site coverage in order to allow for a larger habitable floor area within the home.

Our client desired a contemporary design for the home with an open plan living, dining and kitchen area opening to a north-facing deck plus private space incorporating four bedrooms, three bathrooms (including an en suite to the main bedroom), a study area and laundry. A double garage was also required in the brief and the residence was to incorporate sustainable design, including energy-saving features.

Overall, the major challenge was to adhere to Wyndham Harbour’s two-storey limit on all new buildings while satisfying the client’s desire to take advantage of the potential for harbour views.

©David J Miller

Our Approach
We planned the first floor with 3.6 metre high ceilings and pushed up approximately one-third of the rear of the building to form an attic floor. This allowed the house to appear as two storeys from the street, while the extended attic floor now captures the beautiful marina scenery to perfection. Full-height windows to the southern facade combine both first and attic floors into one, forming a ‘C’ shaped façade.

The three-level house is quite compact and has a small ground floor footprint, with a larger first floor and an attic living space on the top level allowing sweeping views through large windows. Internally, an illusion of greater space has been created via high ceilings, extensive glazing, a bespoke central floating staircase and a restrained palette of natural colours and materials, including timber and marble.

Design Element
With its distinctive C-shaped facade that wraps around from roof to ground, the various heights designed to mimic the movement of waves. First-floor cantilevering forms a direct ‘floating’ connection that also references the nearby sea. This Victorian seaside residence escapes all the cliches long-favoured in beach house design while being cleverly tailored to make the most of its location and magnificent views over sparkling waters and bobbing yachts at anchor.

©David J Miller

Inside, a bespoke staircase is a striking interior feature. Designed in consultation with a structural engineer, each solid timber stair tread sits perfectly in between long vertical timber battens without the need for stair stringers. This unique staircase provides a feeling of lightness to complement the floating facade and continuous flow of internal spaces.

The exterior is clad with Blackbutt timber and full-height windows on the north-east facade allow passive solar thermal comfort year-round. The west facade features large eaves and highlights and slot windows with low-e glass to inhibit heat storage from the sun during summer.

A cantilever suspended 2.5 metres from the main bedroom hovers above decking to establish volume and allow views of the sea. It is also a response to Council guidelines that specify the building must provide an aesthetic impact as an integral part of the marina development.

©David J Miller

Sustainability Response
Sustainability is central to the design, allowing the occupants to enjoy year-round thermal comfort and considerable savings on utility costs.

The house is carefully oriented according to passive solar design principles. Where possible, spaces to be occupied in the daytime have been orientated towards solar north, while utility areas and bedrooms have been oriented to the south.

Cross ventilation provided via sashless window openings on opposing walls
Heat pump solar hot water heater, solar power system.
Bulkhead ducted air-conditioning for heating, cooling and improved air quality
2000 litre steel rainwater tank, greywater recycling system.


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