If you drive through beachside towns in Australia, you can notice a shift in building typology. The fibro shacks of childhood are slowly being replaced by large-scale suburban style homes, that provide double story views of the ocean. While TDF is no stranger to celebrating monumental architectural homes on the coast – there is something to be said for the delights of the ‘shack’, in offering spatial cues for simpler living. Somewhat ironically, this arresting circular home on the Mornington Peninsula offers an escape from the ‘circle game’ of modern life.
The architects behind the St Andrews Beach House explain ‘Australians have some of the biggest houses in the world, and holiday houses are increasingly becoming carbon copies of the suburban home.’ The owner of this home-in-the-round challenged the architects to design him a ‘bach’ – a New Zealand word to describe a modest dwelling, something akin to the Australian shack or Scottish bothy. The architects highlight how in New Zealand, ‘regardless of how much money you’ve made, you get yourself a bach, and that bach has to be the most basic, down-to-earth thing.’
The cylindrical home is remotely located, on land abutting national parkland, a stones throw away from the foreshore and sand dunes. This isolation offered the architects an opportunity to maximise views in all directions, with a design that deeply responds to a sense-of-place. The double storey circular home is nestled like a designer object in the landscape, and sits at less that five metres in radius.
The design is precise, geometric, and informed by an openness and simplicity of living. The ground floor interior is segmented into independent spaces, with the spiral staircase as a central core. Upstairs, the bedroom is ‘essentially one bunk room, separated by curtains.’
Exposed timber beams fan out through the dwelling, offering golden warmth against the polished concrete floor. The architects explain ‘ The materials have been selected to patina and weather, ‘like an old coastal wharf.’
In refusing to conform to a typical layout, this refined ‘bach’ offers the residents alternative modes of living, and ‘serves to both engage and liberate’. In symbology, the circle represents totality and wholeness. This ‘bach’ is a timeless and unified delight.