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The Anti-Surburban Beach House: A New Build That Prioritizes Craft Over Style, Community Over Privacy

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The Anti-Surburban Beach House: A New Build That Prioritizes Craft Over Style, Community Over Privacy

May 10, 2021

It’s natural to be influenced by your travels and to pepper your home with interior souvenirs. For instance, after vacationing in the Southwest one year, I became enamored with desert style and promptly picked up a few potted succulents, a Cosanti wind bell, and a couple throw pillows in that peach-coral hue so popular in that region of the country.

Few among us, though, can claim to return from a trip and build an entirely new house inspired by the local architecture spotted while on vacation. But such is the case with Vikki, the globe-trotting client of Australian architecture firm Curious Practice. “Vikki traveled extensively through Southeast Asia and the Pacific Islands and was taken by the sense of connectedness and kindness of family in the more traditional regions,” says architect Warren Hasnoot, explaining the unconventional design of her Newcastle beach house.

Instead of bedrooms shunted into hallways, they are open to the main open kitchen and living area to encourage congregation and connection. Instead of doors that close people off from one another, there are blinds for temporary privacy. And instead of layers of plaster and molding and paint on the walls, the frame of the house was left exposed and unfinished, a choice that fit both the client’s budget and preference for honest materials. (All told, the project came in at just under $400,000.)

“The brief was always described as a flexible home that could accommodate different family arrangements, but mostly Vikki spoke about the grandchildren and an interesting place for them to explore and feel safe,” says Warren.

By these measures (and more), Curious Practice has succeeded. Let’s take a tour.

Photography by Katherine Lu, courtesy of Curious Practice.

One of the challenges of the design for Vikki&#8
Above: One of the challenges of the design for Vikki’s Place (the project name) is that it’s sited in a flood-prone zone, but that also “became the project’s greatest opportunity,” says Warren. “The [design] is non-conventional in comparison to its neighbors. However, this is something more houses are going to have to deal with in relation to increased extreme weather patterns and rising sea levels.”
The living happens on the second level, above the carport and entry courtyard. A simple kitchen with plywood built-ins and stainless steel countertops greets visitors. From the architect&#8
Above: The living happens on the second level, above the carport and entry courtyard. A simple kitchen with plywood built-ins and stainless steel countertops greets visitors. From the architect’s statement: “An interior of craft and honesty is prioritized over style or glamour.”
The kitchen bleeds into the living room.
Above: The kitchen bleeds into the living room.
&#8
Above: “The client said they wanted no plasterboard, they described it as a ‘dead’ material,” says Warren. “The fine—and at times playful— resolution of the ‘unfinished’ and raw materials allows the inhabitants flexibility and opportunity to express themselves.”
Two bedrooms are lofted and open to the public spaces. The multiple levels encourage playfulness and exploration.
Above: Two bedrooms are lofted and open to the public spaces. The multiple levels encourage playfulness and exploration.
Blinds for the two bedrooms and and a sliding door for the bathroom (center) provide a little privacy.
Above: Blinds for the two bedrooms and and a sliding door for the bathroom (center) provide a little privacy.
&#8
Above: “The materials used are only those which are required, and the maker’s mark is celebrated through exposed construction detailing with everything on show. This approach is reinforced through the design of open joinery, exaggerated plumbing, and custom light shades.”
One of the bedrooms with ample light.
Above: One of the bedrooms with ample light.
The smaller bedroom fits just a bed.
Above: The smaller bedroom fits just a bed.
There are multiple opportunities via sliding glass doors for easy indoor-outdoor living.
Above: There are multiple opportunities via sliding glass doors for easy indoor-outdoor living.
The only truly discrete room is the studio, which has a separate entry from the shared balcony.
Above: The only truly discrete room is the studio, which has a separate entry from the shared balcony.
The studio bedroom has its own kitchenette and bathroom.
Above: The studio bedroom has its own kitchenette and bathroom.
One of Warren&#8
Above: One of Warren’s favorite features turns out to be the carport: “The idea of a carport instead of a garage is so much more appealing when you consider how the space can be used when unoccupied by a car. The way this space connects to the gardens and how it becomes an outdoor room protected from the sun and rain was a nice surprise.”
The street-level view from the carport.
Above: The street-level view from the carport.

For more minimalist architecture, see:

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