The Modern Australian Beach House - The Clubhouse by Wolveridge Architects
Sorrento, VIC, Australia
The backdrop for the Clubhouse in Sorrento fully embraces the plentiful views beyond, and costal proximity. Jerry Wolveridge and Will Smart of Wolveridge Architects speak to the inspiration and journey that conjured this uncompromising holiday home.
Sorrento is a place steeped in nostalgia for the clients of the Clubhouse project, in particular this site, where they grew up in a Merchant home. Not surprisingly, this then became the ideal place to create an ‘escape’ home of sorts on their return from a stint of living overseas. With this direct connection to the site, Jerry Wolveridge, director of Wolveridge Architects, explains “the client enjoyed a strong familiarity with the land and was able to communicate those aspects of the land that he felt remained significant”, which assisted the architects in being able to understand and interpret the site on a much deeper level.
“The steep contour of an already-heavily excavated site [enabled] the elevation of the upper level and provided a strong landscape connection from the main living spaces’’ he says, while also opening a multitude of opportunity for the staggered vistas from within. The landscaping, designed by Eckersleys Garden Architecture, creates a deep connection of built mass to landscape, and “the building’s edges provided a stunning landscape solution to merge the extended golf and tea tree environment within the dune that the home sits”, says Jerry.
The architect’s approach is a realistic one, acknowledging that the relationship between architects and clients is long and ongoing. Several meetings are had “even before pen hits paper, to interrogate the brief” and fully understand how the client lives and how that can inform their future. The result of this process in The Clubhouse is a cross-pollination of the everyday home with the holiday residence, challenging particularity of each typology.
Almost organically, “there is definitely a blurring of the lines between the weekly home and the holiday home”, Will Smart, Associate of Wolveridge Architects reflects, where “more often we are seeing the holiday home being setup so that it can at some point be used as the permanent home”. Here, the continuation of the comforts of the everyday, and maintaining that standard of convenience, were driving forces, along with the need to accommodate larger groups and visitors.
The ‘steep contour of an already heavily excavated site’ enabled ‘the elevation of the upper level and provided a strong landscape connection from the main living spaces’.
Sustainability and maintenance were also key features, where Wolveridge are finding that ‘the holiday homes are not maintenance heavy, given there isn’t always someone there – for example, hydronic in-slab heating can take days to heat up, which is not really a practical solution’ when occupancy could be more on a weekend-only basis, ‘so in those cases we would look at hydronic trenches and panels so that the heat is more immediate’, and to be conscious of running costs.
The architect’s approach is a realistic one, acknowledging that the relationship is not a short one where several meetings are had ‘even before pen hits paper, to interrogate the brief.
As the overall site was subdivided, that in itself provided its own challenges and in this case it “resulted in a somewhat more urban solution”, explains Jerry, also informing an approach to materiality. Externally, there is a purposed “coastal palette”, however, “internally the selection of materials provides perhaps a more urban sensibility”, allowing the residence to sit quite easily into any urban setting.
There is a blurring of the lines between the weekly home and the holiday home.
Encased in timber and concrete, and bold geometric forms, a similar sense of warmth is carried inside through the robust materiality mirrored on vertical and horizontal surfaces, together with a series of softer elements, inspired in part by the art collection of the client. Scattered in amongst this fusion of luxe and a relaxed coastal, at the core of all of Wolveridge’s work, is a vein of sustainability and a focussed integration of passive design solutions; ‘at the basic level, this means that aspects such as solar passive design, consideration for cross ventilation, incorporation of thermal massing and highly insulative building envelopes remain at the forefront of our thinking.’
Internally the selection of materials provides perhaps a more urban sensibility allowing the residence to sit quite easily into any urban setting.
As an extension to the principles ingrained in Jerry’s 2009 family home the Hill Plains House, which has no grid connected services, his passion to “constantly tune [buildings] with the changes in the surrounding environment to maximise the performance and comfort levels” has only grown. Clubhouse is an example of years of experience, a great site and a collaborative and close relationship between architect and client coming together. The resulting residence challenges the mould of what an ‘away’ home can be, provides a place of escape, is sustainably conscious, low-maintenance and beautifully appointed. Classic and timeless, this is an exemplar example of long-standing architecture.