A safe harbour

31 Dec 2012

Home embraces the northern light and grand sea views

Coalcliff House is situated in a wonderful exposed position, facing dominantly east and north, and prompted a material response of concrete and timber construction.

The clients had a combined passion for boats and sailings, and for all things Japanese. In order to fulfil this brief the architects considered the client's love of Todao Ando's concrete work and the desire for simple living within a secure framework. It was important to the architects to frame the unique site and views and consider the client's life, art and pottery collections in the design.

From the outside, Coalcliff House appears to be a timber house, honey brown in its timber cladding which allows it to be at one with its coastal setting. Inside, the interior reveals the concrete house. The post and beam concrete structural system allows the house to be flexible in summer and winter and to create an ambiguity between inside and outside.

External doors slide behind timber panels and are not visible within the frame created, allowing views to become remarkable and spaces to merge. Floors and ceilings are largely off form concrete creating reflective surfaces that allow what is a substantial material to transform. The palette of materials is restrained.

The concrete internal walls are juxtaposed against a bespoke designed timber built -in system of joinery of recycled and veneer blackbutt, softening the harder aspects of grey concrete.

Sustainable energy considerations include high level louvres to allow hot air to escape through the high points of the long skillion roof; a bank of photovoltaic cells on the roof for electrical generation; a large capacity, water tank for recycling rainwater and passive solar solutions such as concrete slabs to allow for winter warming internally; reverse block veneer to create better thermal capacity of walls; the use of solar thermal glass and thermal films on glass; and a large northern screened wall to incorporate summer sun shading and breezeway principles.

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