Imagined as an open courtyard, Casa X sees a series of timber-lined pavilions connect across a unique dune-embossed site. Branch Studio Architects carves out a warm enclave in walking distance from the coastline the building is tucked so neatly within.
Sitting on its densely natural vegetated foreshore location, Casa X enjoys a prime position with uninterrupted access to its own portion of the adjacent beach. Located on Phillip Island, a short and popular weekend and holiday retreat for residents of nearby Melbourne, the home is a truly immersive experience. Its location amongst the undulating sand dunes is embraced by the structure that, limiting itself to a single storey, sits humbly, burrowing itself into its site. Challenging the traditional coastal approach of building upward and outward to access available views, Branch Studio Architects’ insular and self-reflective approach instead reverses this typical response.
Built by Anthony Johns, with landscape design by Orchard Design and structural engineering by OPS Engineers, the timber-clad home offers nods to a cabin aesthetic and references the warm and textured feeling of a comforting cave or house of retreat. The resulting palette is one of reclaimed solid blackbutt timber floorboards (with accompanying timber veneer joinery), Tasmanian oak internal wall and ceiling cladding, all encased within spotted gum external shiplap cladding. Despite its rural location, the level of intentioned refinement can be seen throughout, and the custom kitchen and robe joinery by Poliform are further testament to this. Designed to age gracefully, as the external cladding develops a natural patina with time and weathering, the structure is intended to blend and become one with its surroundings.
Designed as a series of pavilions on the site, the resulting arrangement and planning for Casa X spurs from an original curiosity about a courtyard home. After deliberation, the sense of enclosure and protection from the elements embodied by such a format was evolved to encompass the idea of pavilions situated around a connecting courtyard. The openness of the sited pavilions and the surrounding landscape allow for the natural to be welcomed inward and encourage activity to be drawn outward.
Occupying under 400 square metres of an approximately 1,800 square-metre site, Casa X is a distillation of the client’s core brief and needs, and nothing more. Doing away with any superfluous elements and corralling around a central gathering space, connected volumes dismantle the traditional coastal home and re-plan it with purpose. Branch Studio has used a play on hierarchy, contrasting dark and light, but more evidently, taken inspiration from the unique and dense site to embrace the location. Casa X offers a true escape, through its warm envelopment and protection from the elements, connecting to the site and offering a refined shelter from which to relish the experience of the landscape.