Imagine a property overlooking the turquoise waters of Jervis Bay with private beach access, and you’ll end up with a dream home that might just come close to Oyster Catcher in New South Wales.
Designed by MCK Architects, the restrained Callala Beach house takes its cues from the coastal location, while also making room for The Garden Social’s serene landscape design.
‘We were designing for a professional Sydney-based couple and their young adult children,’ The Garden Social director Asher Cole says. It’s a haven where the family all comes together to unwind, immersed in the natural surrounds that have been carefully designed to look and feel untamed, ‘like it had never been touched’.
‘A large portion of the client’s property extends into the sand dunes,’ Asher adds. ‘Private beach access had been overrun by weeds and needed to be reinstated without damage to the dune and endemic plants.’
The landscape architect has worked on coastal gardens before, but says this was the first where they spent extensive time studying the local environment and history of the plants introduced to the dunes. Asher enlisted the help of South Coast Gardens – an ‘amazingly talented, local horticulturist’, Roger Stanton – who propagated some of the plants from nearby dunes in a matrix inspired by the natural patterns of existing low shrubs, small trees and grasses.
‘The architecture was so methodically designed to have minimal environmental impact. Our role was to stretch the natural landscape into the site to nestle the built form into what feels like the natural landscape,’ she explains.
Gardens weave inside and out of the home through multiple internal courtyards, complete with sculptural, towering cacti. They introduced a mix of native and complementary plants strong enough to endure the harsh environment of the waterfront position, from a beach grass called Spinifex Sericeus, Lagurus Ovatus (hare’s tail grass) Scaevola Calendulacea (dune fan-flowers) and Atriplex Cineria (grey saltbush). Other ‘iconic coastal plants’ such as the Acacia tree and coastal tea tree also helped anchor the home in its windswept setting.
Asher says the Tait concrete bench seat built into the sand dune has sunken into the landscape, creating an intimate space where the clients can enjoy the incredible views.
‘The tones in the native plant palette and the way they blend into the hardwood cladding of the architecture and view beyond get me every time,’ she adds. ‘It’s incredibly moody and iconically Australian.’