This house overlooking Avoca Beach is a masterful example of the architect’s craft, but for Angus Crowe of True North Architects in MacMasters Beach this was an exercise in negative space.

For the owner of this beautiful home, much of life is lived outdoors so she wasn’t looking for a home that took up the block, drinking in those stunning beach views. She wanted a backyard, a vegie patch, outdoor living space … All of them taking in the view that had led her to the plot originally. So the brief was somewhat back to front – a home that complemented the outdoor spaces rather than dictated them.

The desire to experience that breathtaking view from every part of the garden has led to an interesting cruciform building on the steep block. The ground level area forms the shorter transept section of the cross shape and follows the footprint of the site’s original dwelling. It features a double garage, the main entranceway and a self-contained guest wing. Above, the large terrace and the kitchen follow the shape of the lower floor, with a long nave formed by the living space and bedrooms beyond.

This approach also saved time and money by utilising the space from the previous dwelling to minimise excavation and back-filling. The lower level nestles into the slope while the upper terraces join with the rear level of the garden.

This is not a large house – just open living areas, two bedrooms and bathrooms upstairs – but it has quite an opulent feeling of space. Rooms are cleverly oriented to utilise every square metre and of course there is the seamless flow to the generous outdoor living spaces. The internal finishes and colour palette are pared back creating airy interiors with splashes of vibrant colour for drama. It all combines to create an extremely comfortable and livable home.

The open living room takes up most of the slim upstairs area. At the back of the building are two bedrooms and two bathrooms. These are modest in size but beautifully finished. The bathrooms in particular make clever use of small spaces, with a sliding wall revealing the ensuite off the main bedroom. A small but well planned walk-in robe off the main bedroom ensures that the modestly-sized bedroom can be given over to the bed and little else. It is a cool and calm space given an injection of warmth with a floating timber floor.

There are so many clever ideas packed into this deceptively simple-looking home. For example storm water is harvested to a large above-ground tank hidden under the fire-pit deck. The water is then used in the toilets and the garden. Passive solar techniques and the northern orientation ensure that the house is comfortable all year round without the need for air-conditioning, and sea breezes are manipulated to be welcomed through summer and cleverly shielded in winter. All this makes for an extremely competent building and one of unassuming beauty.

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