Traditional Australian beach shacks are simple robust dwellings built for families to escape the city. These houses have dotted small surfing and fishing villages up and down the Australian coast for over 100 years. With their crude, minimal, public and joyful nature the beach shack is the basis of the Australian coastal vernacular.
Beach shacks, traditionally being cheap, small and only occupied during holiday periods, provided the basics for shelter and food preparation – families and holidaymakers were forced to optimise the exterior for living activities. Decks became living rooms and barbecues became kitchens, life spilled outside on long hot days spent chasing the shade of the verandah.
Depot Beach House is an elaborate beach shack that amplifies the traditional coastal vernacular and the associated relationships between family, space and the rituals of holidaymaking.
Upgrades on the traditional shack include a large rooftop sunshade that retracts to allow sun into the house in winter, good passive solar design with thermal mass for the storage of heat in winter and evacuation of heat in summer, strategic cross ventilation through highlights and sun shading specific to orientation add to passive efficiencies.
The building connects to the past lineage of the site through a palette of hardy matter-of-fact materials; there is a bunkhouse for
packing in kids and friends, overall there is space for 22 people to sleep if the need arises.
Most importantly, decks have become extensive spaces for exterior living. An elevated living and cooking environment integrates with a large open plan living area to become the theatrical heart of the home – a place for talking, cooking, eating, reading and looking out to the ocean.
Depot Beach House reiterates the ease of occupation of the past along with an awareness of connectivity and respect to the preservation of the landscape, our future.
Text and Images taken from ‘Under the Edge : the Architecture of Peter Stutchbury’ published by the Architecture Foundation Australia, 2008. Photos : Michael Nicholson. Text : Peter Stutchbury and Ewan McEoin.
Depot Beach House
Location: Depot Beach, New South Wales
Project duration: 2000 – 2007