A Historical-Style Beach House That Expands With The Seasons

Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula is one of Victoria’s most densely populated seaside destinations. It is also home to a spectacular piece of Edwardian architecture. Named Whitehall, the grand limestone accommodation lodge is around 116 years old, and contains distinct hallmarks of its heritage grandeur.

A new residential project by Wolveridge shares a streetscape with this historical homestead, which became the main source of inspiration for the design of this new home. Situated on a sloping block, The Township Residence is cleverly designed to blend in seamlessly with Sorrento’s unique architectural character. We can barely believe it’s a new build!

Sasha Gattermayr

The Township Residence by Wolveridge is a new home fully informed by Sorrento’s traditional vernacular. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Owing to the sloping site, the majority of the living spaces and sleeping quarters reside on the upper floor. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The main living room and master bedroom site at the front of the house to take advantage of the generous upper decks. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A secondary living room appears in the rear wing as you move through the house. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A hallway runs the length of the rear wing connecting the kitchen and dining area with the second living room. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The generous kitchen and dining area opens onto the rear courtyard. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The twin-trunked Moonah tree is the eye candy of the courtyard! Photo – Derek Swalwell.

A light, warm palette exudes a coastal feel. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Hewn sandstone walls are staples in traditional Sorrento architecture, and add a Federation era touch to the interiors. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Pops of wicker add some textural difference. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The master bedroom. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The master bathroom. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Light floods in from the street-facing glazing. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Direct sun is filtered through sheer curtains. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The muted interior colour palette allows the light to be real hero of the space. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The deep street-facing decks with ovaltine cut-outs are a contemporary interpretation of Whitehall’s wrap-around verandah. As is typical with the traditional Queenslander, this a key Federation-era feature of coastal architecture. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Covered overhead and surrounded by batten screens, these spaces act like outdoor extensions to their neighbouring rooms. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The rear courtyard is a harbour of serenity (and a pop of green!). Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Photo – Derek Swalwell.

The two outdoor spaces perform different functions: the front is spectacular and observational, while the rear is secluded and primed for family activities. Photo – Derek Swalwell.

Sasha Gattermayr
27th of August 2020

The Township Residence by Wolveridge shares a streetscape with Sorrento’s historic Whitehall building. Associate director of Wolveridge, Will Smart, cites this enormous 19th-century limestone guest house as a key design inspiration for the architects’ new (much smaller) residence, constructed by by Smith Builders.

‘The project could not resist referencing some of the more timeless Federation touches,’ Will explains. ‘In particular, the deep verandah with the arched screen openings, which we translated with a contemporary expression.’

Situated one block back from the Ocean Beach Reserve, these upper level decks afford the inhabitants views across the protected parkland, as well as allowing generous amounts of natural light to flood the front living space and master bedroom. Oval openings are carved from slim timber battens cladding the exterior, forming a screen-like shading, and allowing the deep decks to act as covered outdoor extensions to the neighbouring rooms. The weatherboard exterior was painted white to remain consistent with traditional beach house vernacular.

Internally, this dedication to classic coastal architecture continues. Characteristics typical to the Sorrento locale, such as a rough-hewn sandstone wall, and light, creamy paint palette dominate the interiors, giving this home a laid-back, beachy feeling.

Owing to the sloping site, the kitchen, dining, secondary living areas and remaining bedrooms are concentrated to the rear of the upper floor, where outdoor access and natural light are the key features. Extensive glazing opens to a tidy courtyard, with an ancient twisted Moonah tree as its focus.

‘The sublime twin-trunked tree anchors and informs the courtyard, providing an outdoor retreat with a sense of refuge and privacy for the rear wing of the house,’ says Will. Almost independent from the rest of the dwelling, this rear wing can be closed off according to the seasonal flux in visitors.

‘Ultimately, I love the way the home nestles into the street,’ says Will, a result of Wolveridge’s masterful negotiation of heritage restrictions. ‘It almost feels as if it’s been there a lifetime already.’

See more projects from Wolveridge here.

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