Designs on tomorrow

Designs on tomorrow


An uninspiring ‘70s home in Sydney’s Manly is transformed, by Sanctum Design into a perfect kick-back-and-relax beach house for a young family.


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Functional and fresh are two words that spring to mind when it comes to this bright and breezy beach house. Elegant, light and colourful, the home manages to maintain a level of sophistication that is sometimes lost in the concept of “beach house”.

Prior to the renovation, the residence was relatively flat and not particularly special. It was also stuck in the ‘70s. What was striking about the site, though, was its proximity to the beautiful beach and the potentially magnificent views it could offer. Also of interest was a rather large family of small critters that occupied the garden. The rear yard — acting like a miniature forest — offered a habitat for a family of bandicoots whose conservation and protection was essential, and so special consideration for them became a central factor to the project.

Bandicoots aside, the young homeowners were keen to renovate, taking full advantage of the privileged location close to Manly beach. They wanted to capture the essence of the location and incorporate the fundamental principles of beachside living into their home. “Leaning towards practical solutions for a casual family lifestyle,” explains James Cooper of Sanctum Design, “the design had to allow for a shoes-off approach to living, while also providing a functional layout that catered for long-term guests and an expanding young family.” An indoor/outdoor mentality, which is a fundamental aspect in many Australian homes, has been beautifully capitalised on. In order to facilitate the wishes of the homeowners, a generous layout evolved — one that accommodated a swimming pool, a child-friendly environment, an existing large tree canopy and, of course, the important bandicoot family — keeping parents, children and bandicoots happy.

There is a perfect flow from the exterior to interior. When outside, the large folding doors trace the length of the home and accentuate the transition to the interior. Inside the home, a rumpus zone that is connected to the kitchen —flanked also by the folding glass doors — incorporates a screen that can be opened fully or closed for privacy. An all-important sand room houses swimwear, surfboards and sandals, and an interconnected pavilion provides separate accommodation for overseas guests and grandparents when they visit. All these core ingredients enable the floorplan to remain open yet functional, and for James, “it’s the functionality of the sand room which allows you to store your surfboard and towels, and wash the sand off as you come home from the beach, which really tells the tale of this building”.

Capturing the essence of the location stretches to the infrastructure of the building. The transition between the kitchen and meals area and the shaded courtyard enhances the concept of an indoor/outdoor lifestyle, and the building has been constructed in such a way as to capture the ocean views towards the east while simultaneously capitalising on the winter sun. “The house was designed to be connected to seaside breezes, winter sun, and provide shade to outdoor areas,” explains James. Neighbouring buildings posed a challenge as protecting their ocean views was a crucial consideration. This caused some difficulties with the council which meant design considerations — such as the roofline and size of the front bedroom — had to be compromised.

This beach abode was one of Sanctum Design’s pre-designed homes. These houses are designed to provide a more cost-effective solution than bespoke designs and in this particular case the floorplan was adjusted to accommodate the specific properties of the space. This included manipulating the design to allow for the guest suite and local conditions. The interior made good use of treatments that were inspired by the 1950s, such as weatherboards and timber flooring. A monochromatic palette also helps emphasise the 1950s aspect of the home.

From a practical perspective, the house functions like a well-oiled machine. The high apartments to the north of the property mean daylight access is limited so to counteract this, natural light is enhanced through the use of skylights, large north-facing doors, and the big solar collector of the entry atrium. This lack of daylight access also impacts on the thermal properties of the home, which means retaining its heat effectively in the winter is a priority. “The building had to respond to overshadowing from tall units and capture as much of the available sun, which it does well with large glazed areas and highlight windows,” explains James. In the summer, however, the home needs to operate in a different manner, ensuring there is lots of cross ventilation to keep it cool, as well as external shading. The implementation of durable cement sheet weatherboards and rendered brickwork help the cooling process, as does the neutral-colour palette that works to reflect the sun and reduce damage inflicted by UV rays. All these elements ensure the home is very comfortable in both summer and winter.

“This is the quintessential beach house,” concludes James. “The connection to breezes, sunshine and external courtyards, along with its simple white palette, help you feel like you are on holiday as soon as you enter the front door. The way space is organised to transition from adult rooms to kids’ areas makes it a perfect family home in a magnificent location. It is Manly living at its best.”

By Alexandra Longstaff

From Luxury Home Design magazine Vol. 16 No. 1