Sorrento Beach house is a new dwelling located on Victoria’s first settlement site of 1803, on Sullivan’s Bay.

Project Name: Sorrento Beach House
Studio Name:
AM Architecture
Project size: 550 m2
Site size: 1915 m2
Completion date: 2015
Building levels: 2
Location: Sorrento, Victoria, Australia
Photography: Dianna Snape

Sorrento Beach House by AM Architecture - Sheet1
Exterior View ©Dianna Snape

The beach house begins as an austere and robust object in the landscape which begins to relax and respond to its natural environment as it approaches the water.

Considering the site’s history, we thought the exterior should not be playful. It should be heavy and robust as one would wish for a ship, or pier, and It should be somewhat austere to avoid polite domestic gestures which seemed out of place against a sombre historical context.

Sorrento Beach House by AM Architecture - Sheet2
Bedroom ©Dianna Snape

Departing from this position, a broad & very heavy timber screen wraps the building, acting to screen the concrete shell from the suns heat. The timber-work references more the heavy coastal timber-work on the foreshore, than the local historic vernacular.

The house transitions between the ideas of shelter and exposure, articulating privacy in the dwelling and the occupant’s experience of the natural site. Internally, the sleeping zone emphasises the concrete shell and is characterised by internal surface, punched-out windows, deep timber sills, and filtered light through external slotted timber screens.

Sorrento Beach House by AM Architecture - Sheet3
Rooftop ©Dianna Snape

Moving from sleeping to the living zones, broad light enters from all directions, and the architecture transitions to a language of spatial openness and less formal restraint, responding to sunlight, wind, privacy, and extensive foreshore views.

The concrete interior emerges to face the harsher conditions of the foreshore, the waterline “presses” against the building creating a sweeping roof line, earthy colours from a local quarry appear in the ground slab, and the timber ceiling fragments into a natural crystalline pattern which align with constellations in the night sky on the eve of settlement. The living areas are conceptualised as outdoor space; earth below, sky above waterline directly in front.

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