Robust Escape – Woolgoolga Beach House by Levesque and Derrick Architects
Woolgoolga, NSW, Australia

Photography Andy Macpherson
Words Bronwyn Marshall
Structural Engineer MNCE

Responding to the harsh coastal conditions, Woolgoolga Beach House sits as a simplified place of escape. Levesque and Derrick Architects embeds a lasting durability in proposing the removed and robust home, while allowing volumes to open generously to the surrounds as a reminder of place.

Aligning with the familiar light-weight timber-clad coastal abodes, Woolgoolga Beach House presents as an expected insertion. The main difference lies in the sense of permanence woven into the building fabric and its many parts, ensuring the home sits appropriate to context while also respectfully in response to the incoming and climatic conditions. Presenting as a cantilevering upper level, the bold form stretches outward toward the views, inviting the natural inward. The holiday home offers an apt escape and requires a minimal level of maintenance to withstand the harsh sea winds and potential corrosion from the salt dampened air. Leveque and Derrick Architects draws on a contextually sensitive language and allows for an uninterrupted ease of flow from inside to out.

The home itself if comprised of two pavilion forms, both north facing, positioned around a central and open courtyard space. Allowing air and light deep into the home, the opening encourages movement across the site, both covered and uncovered from the elements.

Built by Robinson Building, Woolgoolga Beach House was originally imagined as an occasional escape, with the intention to be able to rent out as needed. As part of the original plan, the owners decided to build on the front portion of the site only, allowing for future subdivision. The pushing of building mass toward the street also enhances visibility and access to views as a result. The home itself is comprised of two pavilion forms, both north facing, positioned around a central and open courtyard space. Allowing air and light deep into the home, the opening encourages movement across the site, both covered and uncovered from the elements. Key reminders of the location are reinforced through visual connections and the sea air, sounds, smells and breezes that brush through the home. An element that was not part of the original plan saw the owners make the home their permanent residence, once complete.

Through a sustainable lens, integrated systems allow for passive heating and cooling, while a solar hot water system and water collection and reuse reduce the overall energy footprint. The arrangement of spaces on the site stretches deliberately across one single level to plan for future proofing and access over time. The main open and connected living spaces are positioned at the front face of the home, connecting with the street and view, while the more passive bedroom and retreat spaces are tucked further into the site. Native plantings blanket the site and provide an ideal buffer between the home and the surrounds, again feeding into the low maintenance intentions for the home.

Key reminders of the location are reinforced through visual connections and the sea air, sounds, smells and breezes that brush through the home.

The careful balancing between the simple and the expressive sees Woolgoolga Beach House become a lasting addition to its locale – responsive to its site, while cleverly conceived to last.

Published 25 November, 2021
Photography  Andy Macpherson
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