Postville Beach House
The Pottsville beach house (situated approximately 1.5 hours south of Brisbane across the border into NSW) is a design heavily influenced by its surroundings. It is a piece of design that celebrates the guided perspective by using its walls as frames toward a greater landscape. Rem Koolhass, the famous Dutch architect once said, ‘One of the exciting things about architecture is that it gives you so many reasons to be modest’.
I am always in awe when I see the panoramas presented by some of the sites we get to work with. To me there is an honesty apparent when the final design points to something other than itself. The Pottsville beach house attempts to do just that. Our site faces southwest and commands sweeping views towards some of NSW’s most beautiful landmarks i.e Mt. Warning and the exposed north coast beach stretch. So few sites contain hinterland and costal views in one. In this case, it would be wrong for the architect to design a building with an inward focus.
When presented with such vistas there is always the temptation to offer up the view on a platter so that it can be seen in its entirety no matter the location. I have come to realise that a controlled perspective evokes a sense of appreciation that builds over time. If left uncontrolled one becomes saturated by an over exposure to the very thing that makes the site unique. As strange as it may sound, to make one work for the view, this method solidifies its importance as a significant feature, one that can be enjoyed for the life of the building.
I came to realise this fact when visiting the home of my parents-in-law for the first time. They live in an idealic location in the Dandenong Mountains, Victoria that has sweeping views of the bay area towards Melbourne. The linear form of the house means that around 80% of all rooms get the same view. With floor to ceiling glass and full height mirrors to the rear one cannot escape the panorama. When visiting for the first time the experience is jaw-dropping beautiful however, I found that my experience of this place has become less grand every time. This is not because the view has become any less magnificent, it’s just that one always sees it, it is not controlled. In fact, I would argue that over time one doesn’t see it.
To intentionally create a differentiation through architecture in ‘perspective’ from space to space is to maintain the uniqueness of a view. There are a few techniques we have implemented in the Pottsville beach house that attempt to do just that.
The first is to create cut-outs in the building that frame specific views. It is important proportion be considered. One has to ask questions like:
- Is this a view for one, two or more people?
- What is the function of the space and how does the view relate?
- Is the focus of a view to act as backdrop or does the occupant(s) face it?
The third is to give a glimpse of the view, then take it away, and then give it again to a greater level. What this achieves is a degree of anticipation for what is to come. It guarantees a process that culminates in journey, discovery and reward.
Unfortunately, this project remains unbuilt despite full construction approval. We hope that it may come online again in the future.