Holloway Beach House 1
The house is situated on a typical beach subdivision north of Cairns as one of a pair of ‘gatehouses’ at the front of each property that control the entries to their gardens beyond. Hugging the arc of the street frontage the houses inflect towards each other to create a sense of openness and individuality in counterpoint to a central rain tree in the street. By contrast with the limited open spaces of the neighbouring suburbia, both houses are compactly arranged on two floors to maximise the landscape potential of each house. However, a fundamental asymmetry arose out of the differing requirements from the different owners of each house which posed a challenge in balancing the apparent visual inequality on each side of the street.
This house is organised with the living space on an upper level spanning over the bedrooms and an open car port on the raised ground level while the bathroom and laundry are contained in a separate open-air out-house attached to the house in the back garden. Access to each space is controlled by a spacious entry hall at the lower level that is complex and distorted in shape to accommodate the arc of the site frontage. From the hall a simple enclosed staircase with a fireplace built against it provides access to the living area and becomes a sculptural object around which to group furniture and circulate. Full height sliding panels transform the living room when open into a large verandah which can take advantage of high level breezes and the views over the neighbourhood and out to sea. A timber-slatted construction with open joints form the walls of the outhouse take advantage of the tropical climate while maintaining privacy to the bathroom.
The structure comprises steel posts and beams where the beams are infilled with light gauge steel pans manufactured as permanent shuttering but here bonded instead with plywood sheeting on the upper surface to form a composite diaphram and floor finish. This is repeated for the roof structure ommiting the plywood. The frame is braced laterally by means of vertical 18mm thick mdf panels either side of the stair treads and screwed firmly to both floors. Longitudinal bracing is by means of steel studwork spanning between portals as window spandrels.
In summary, this pair of houses are ‘primitive huts’ suitable for the 21st Century. In reality, however, even primitive huts, for all their simplicity, still need to have kitchens, bathrooms and all the other conveniences of the day.