St Andrews Beach House

Austin Maynard Architects

Located on the Mornington Peninsula in Victoria, Australia, St Andrews Beach House is a two-storey circular holiday home that takes advantage of the remoteness of its site and expansive views. The house stands alone, in amongst wild bushland, rugged sand dunes and scrub. The location is fragile and the house respectfully integrates into the environment. With no neighbouring forms to respond to, the brief – to design a modest, two-bedroom beach shack – was freely imagined.

St Andrews Beach has no shopping strip and no restaurants. There’s a corner store, a brewery and not much else. What it does offer is serenity and seclusion, a wildly beautiful coastline, and some of the most celebrated residential architecture in Australia. Though the current trend in Australia is, typically, ‘go large’, the owner did not want an oversised and ostentatious holiday home. Instead, he wanted a ‘bach’ – a New Zealand word used to describe a very modest, small and basic shack, or shed.

Less than five metres in radius, St Andrews Beach House provides – in modest form – everything you would need and want in a beach shack. The shape of the house grew from a response to the views, which extend in all directions, and the simplification of the interior spaces. There are no corridors and no wasted space. St Andrews Beach House in an object in the landscape, a Euclidean form set amongst rolling coastal terrain.

The ground floor comprises kitchen, living and dining, with a bathroom and a laundry. An open deck area, within the tube, unites the spaces when the bi-fold doors are opened. It creates a two-storey space that’s both outside and inside. Not adhering to a typical layout allows you, if not forces you, to live differently. With a standard home arrangement (a long corridor, with rooms leading off) everyone knows how to use the spaces. A circular home with strong open connections horizontally and diagonally throughout serves to both engage and liberate.

Photography: Derek Swalwell.