House with the most the toast of the coast

 House on the Coast, by Sean Godsell Architects, has won the Robin Boyd Award for Houses (New) at the Australian Institute of Architects’ Australian Architecture Awards. Photos courtesy the Australian Institute of Architects/Sean Godsell Architects/Young and Percival/Earl Carter

House on the Coast, by Sean Godsell Architects, has won the Robin Boyd Award for Houses (New) at the Australian Institute of Architects’ Australian Architecture Awards. Photos courtesy the Australian Institute of Architects/Sean Godsell Architects/Young and Percival/Earl Carter

A stunning Mornington Peninsula house has taken out a major prize at the Australian Institute of Architects’ Australian Architecture Awards. House on the Coast, designed by Sean Godsell Architects, won the Robin Boyd Award for Houses (New) at the awards last month, the jury describing it as “an exploration of refinement and reduction”. The holiday house, nestled into a steep sand dune bordering a national park, is focused on privacy and connection with nature, created to take in the most spectacular ocean views.

“As coastal towns begin to manifest the suburban model, the quality of the natural landscape is often compromised, along with views and sightlines,” the jury said. “House on the Coast acknowledges this changing condition and prioritises the landscape by sinking the timber-battened building into the sloping terrain. Rather than opening the living spaces out to the views of cluttered hillsides populated by an increasing number of rooftops, the home strategically orientates itself into the landscaped hillside with only carefully choreographed openings to the ocean view. The sense of isolation and privacy that this creates is highly appropriate in its context as a holiday house, allowing its inhabitants a chance to detach and relax.

“Entry to the house is via a protected courtyard with a fireplace — a transitional and multifunctional space that can be used all year round. The plan comprises a series of ordered, compact and robust spaces that would require minimum maintenance. Rooms are designed for a variety of configurations, with consciously flexible arrangements such as a custom-designed kitchen bench that extends out to form a long dining table and a large bedroom with a retractable wall. Despite the raw and robust materiality of the house, there is a warmth and subtlety within these interior spaces.

“This house continues an exploration of refinement and reduction by Sean Godsell,” the jury said. “The singular form and intense detailing create an exquisitely neutral living platform from which to engage with the beautiful coastal landscape.”

Richard Kirk, the jury chairman and immediate past president of the Australian Institute of Architects, said the awards provided an opportunity to reflect on how Australia’s diverse landscapes, urban environments and economic conditions influence and inform our architecture, enriching our culture. “Projects at this level are all accomplished but it was those that could demonstrate their value broadly, beyond the limits of the brief and the confines of the site, which were nationally recognised,” Richard said.

“Most impressive were projects that established new design benchmarks and whose influence can be of value to the broader community, leading to positive change in our built environment.

“For the jury, it was important that all the awarded projects implemented sustainability initiatives at a conceptual level, taking a holistic approach. It was impressive to see the growing sophistication and ingenuity in this domain.”

The institute’s national president, Clare Cousins, congratulated all award recipients and finalists for their valuable contribution to Australian architectural practice. “In Australia, we have developed our own brand of architecture that defines who we are and where we come from,” Clare said.

“These awards are the most recognised and competitive in the industry. They are peer-judged and involve an exhaustive selection process, with site visits to shortlisted projects, allowing the jury to experience the quality of the work firsthand. They showcase the continuing evolution and diversity of our craft and the changing needs of our society, illustrating the vital role architecture plays in the lives of all Australians.”

The full list of Victorian award winners is available at architecture.com.au