IN 2019 Stuart Campbell, director of CKDS Architecture, took on a new build in Merewether right by the beach.
With robust materials like off-form concrete and natural hardwood, the five-bedroom, three-bathroom home took a year to build and was built to last. It tolerates the close proximity to the ocean and withstands the southerly and north-easterly wind and the corrosive salt air.
Their clients wanted a home with both privacy and a strong visual connection to the coastline. Like the changing beachside suburb, the house beautifully blends new and old.
Previously it was a rundown building riddled with concrete cancer.
"It was a dilapidated two-storey walk-up apartment building," Stuart says of the location. "It was an interesting process, we were actually engaged by the client for another site in New Lambton Heights. We made a small start, and they decided not to proceed with it. They realised they preferred to be by the beach."
After they found the fantastic location, they got the brief from the client in tandem with the council planning control forms. Stuart had everything he needed to start designing.
The home sits on top of a plinth with a crisp white render on the upper floor. Stuart included plenty of recesses in the build for more privacy and also enhancing its interesting shape.
The southern portion of the house is for private activities and the living and entertaining areas are in the northern spaces. Timber and concrete screen the ground floor and courtyard while simultaneously creating a shaded summer retreat. Upstairs, every bedroom has a view of the ocean. Sleeping and living spaces are separated by the stair void and bridge. The home has clear passive and active zones.
The coastal feel is due to the softness of the materials, even the concrete, the concrete looks quite soft.Stuart Campbell
Stuart worked with Graph Building and loved the outcome. For this house the make and build was more traditional. Much of the design process addressed the minute details early on, making it less stressful later.
"It went out to a number of builders for pricing. Graph Building got the tender based on a number of factors," he says. "It was a really thorough and robust process in terms of the build."
He worked alongside the builders the entire time. He regularly met with the project manager, the site foreman, the client and other people from the CKDS office like the structural engineer.
"The beauty of those meetings is you're discussing things weeks in advance or longer. You're really looking at a lot of inputs," he says.
With so much advance planning, the team was more prepared and the client had less stress with making decisions like determining taps and tiles at the last minute.
"When you're on site, you're not rushing around making selections, so there's space. It's all selected. It doesn't mean you're stuck with it, you can change it," Stuart says.
They've done a few houses in the suburb and understand the conditions of the area. A difference with this house is they explored the off-form concrete to a higher level.
He designed the home with Environmentally Sustainable Design (ESD) Principles including solar panels and battery storage. The house has external vertical screening east and west to shade glazing from summer sun. It has deep overhangs and decks to the north for summer sun protection. The second floor is oriented to the north-east, maximising thermal mass.
He describes the house as having a modern coastal aesthetic.
"It's not a beach house, not weatherboard. The coastal feel is due to the softness of the materials, even the concrete, the concrete looks quite soft," he says.
His favourite part is the entry because it's the touch point throughout the house which always comes back to the main entry stairs. It has a really nice feel to it.
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