A Coastal Retreat – Larus Marinus House by Harley Graham Architects
Wategos Beach, NSW, Australia

Photography Andy Macpherson
Words Bronwyn Marshall
Landscape Landsite

Reaching outwards to the ocean beyond, Larus Marinus House sits perched onto its steeply sloping site surrounded by bush. Harley Graham Architects combines the familiarity of the coastal holiday home vernacular with the crispness of contemporary design to create a multigenerational retreat.

Responding to its privileged location, Larus Marinus House combines the familiar ingredients of the coastal abode with the convenience and crisp detailing of the contemporary residential condition. Conceived as a multigenerational retreat, the dual occupancy homes sit side by side, anchored to both the site and each other by the shared joining partition wall. Set within a natural valley, the project is located in Wategos Beach and sits comfortably amongst its neighbouring holiday homes. The emphasis on the location is expressed through the floor-to-ceiling glazed façade and the extended horizontal floor and ceiling planes that extend beyond the encasing envelope. Encouraging the natural transfer of activity across the traditional built thresholds, the balconies and terraces gesture to the free flow of movement between inside and out. Harley Graham Architects combines a refined and enduring approach to match the casual nature of the retreat setting.

Responding to its privileged location, Larus Marinus House combines the familiar ingredients of the coastal abode with the convenience and crisp detailing of the contemporary residential condition.

Set within a natural valley, the home is located in Wategos Beach and sits comfortably amongst its neighbouring holiday homes.

As each floor plate stacks on top of the other, teetering upward and encouraging views outward, the sense of immersion in place was intended as a constant reminder of the building’s abundant natural setting. Built by Foley Construction with engineering by Phil Wallace, Larus Marina House’s integration into its surrounding vegetation was fundamental. Together with landscape by Landsite, the buffering of edges between the built and the natural needed to be softened, and the creation of its private and secluded courtyard and pool offers a counterbalance to the openness on the oppositive streetscape side. Taking its name from the great black-backed gull, the home is intended to resemble a thinly sprawled resting form, floating on its site. Each horizontal band then acts to break down the scale of its three-storey mass into a more human scale.

Situated on the upper floors is the living, kitchen and terrace spaces that act as a means to capitalise on the surrounding views, then as the levels descend, a more receded and removed approach is applied both to the scale and the sense of openness. Hinging the two dwellings is the central vertical stair structure, around which key functions pivot. While disparate structures, their intended connectedness and closeness allows for the successful programming of the multigenerational brief. Intended to adapt to the seasons, retractable elements open up for natural ventilation, while deep overhangs allow for a natural diversion of unwanted heat internally. The materiality combines the coastal and the contemporary, with robust elements that require minimal maintenance and are intended to age and patina gracefully.

Conceived as a multigenerational retreat, the dual occupancy homes sit side by side, anchored to both the site and each other by the shared joining partition wall.

The materiality combines the coastal and the contemporary, with robust elements that require minimal maintenance and are intended to age and patina gracefully.

Larus Marinus House offers itself as a place from whichits owners can be enveloped in the surrounding natural elements, where both private and social milieus sit comfortably alongside one another. Harley Graham Architects injects a sense of refinement to elevate the occasional home experience.

Set within a natural valley, the project is located in Wategos Beach and sits comfortably amongst its neighbouring holiday homes.

The emphasis on the location is expressed through the floor-to-ceiling glazed façade and the extended horizontal floor and ceiling planes that extend beyond the encasing envelope.

Published 22 September, 2020
Photography  Andy Macpherson
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