Whale Beach Renovation
a coastal retreat with history realizes its full potential
Local history has it that the original house was one of the first on the peninsula, built by an old Scottish sailor in the early twenties. Unyielding to the lack of vehicular access, he brought the building materials onto the site via the sea, dragging them up from a safe beach on the other side of the headland. Undoubtedly the strong maritime character of the house came from this auspicious beginning, and our project sought to preserve this whilst also improving the amenity of the family’s new home.
The humble simplicity of form and expression of the home attracted its new owners, along with the magnificent ocean views of the cliff face site. Richard and Gillian’s brief for the project revolved around their children, with play spaces, entertainment areas and shelter from the harsh ocean elements being essential.
Sheltered by the building mass, the back of the house provides the opportunity to create this space. Two new arms at each end of the house extend to embrace a courtyard, and a series of terraces are carved back into the cliff. This new private courtyard cradled within the structure of the house and site captures the sun and wards off the wind, while allowing the promise of the ocean beyond. Sun penetration is maximized within the house with the rearrangement of internal spaces. Living spaces are given priority and moved to areas with abundant northern light, and service spaces moved to areas with less light.
Through intense collaboration with Richard and Gillian, the additions have added another layer of character to a building already filled with history. Importantly, the original nautical character of the house was maintained and reinforced by the shift in focus from spaces relating only to the view, to form also those relating to the remarkable landform. Our design has allowed for a deeper experience of living by the sea.