Houses are no longer inert structures that take abuse from the sun, wind, or rain. Take the gorgeous façade of Andrew Burges Architects’ Pittwater House in Australia, which protects its inhabitants from the elements with a series of adjustable timber guards. Set along a plot of land facing the beach in Sydney, Australia, the home is a modern beach house for a retired couple and their children and grandchildren. Clad in simple stone and timber, the extendable screens along the beachfront façade enable the family to adjust both privacy and natural shade as the sun moves across the sky each day.
The Pittwater House’s floor plan is divided into pavilions, one addressing the beach and the other facing the street or “front” of the home. Either side is connected with a sprawling double-height room that also houses the common areas of the kitchen and dining room, created to bring the multi-generational family together.
The beach front façade was inspired by the many boats that pass in the nearby harbor. Using a simple rope and pulley system, the timber screens can be opened and closed individually. The three panels on the ground floor can be opened to directly connect the interior with the grassy yard that leads to the beach. The three upstairs panels open to a deep patio off the master bedroom that overlooks the water. Each panel is made from recycled tallow wood, keeping the timber harmonious with the local landscape.
The versatile house allows the family to reduce its energy use, while also connecting with their magnificent natural surroundings.