In a time of increased downsizing, it is rare to be presented with two adjoining blocks with which to create a modern-day estate. The result achieved by award-winning Craig Steere Architects is one that draws from the site’s relationship to the surrounding environment to subtly reference the historic homes among the iconic heritage pines of beachside Cottesloe.
The brief to Craig Steere, who lives in the area himself, was for large bedrooms for each of the three soon-to-be-teenage girls, a guest bedroom, dedicated adult and children zones, and easy connectivity to outdoor entertaining areas. So while the footprint of the new build was largely maintained within that of the existing bungalow, the levels have been replicated in order to gain extra floor space.
“We had to work carefully within the limitations of the Council’s height restrictions, which follow the natural contours of the site, to maximise the height and floor levels to get the ocean views,” Craig says.
And although the floor area is huge, Craig has managed to disguise the basement area through extensive excavation, designing what appears as a simple two-storey exterior elevation, rather than an imposing three-storey home.
“The clients were determined for the new home to offer the comforts of contemporary living without making too strong a contemporary architectural statement,” says Craig. “It was a big part of the design consideration to ensure the house sat quietly in the street and to strive for an understated street frontage. I think it’s worked out better than we thought.”
Neighbours to the rear meant careful attention had to be paid so as not to restrict their outlook.
“We did this by levelling the roof without compromising the minimum pitch required by the installation of the sheoke shingles,” Craig says. Spending Christmas in The Hamptons some years ago consolidated the client’s love of the timber shingles. It is an empathy born from growing up in South Australia, where the roof cladding has been a familiar fixture in character homes since colonisation. Its inclusion was insisted on from the outset, despite the hefty price tag.
Although Craig has incorporated tactile elements such as shingles and zincalume cladding, the fundamentals of the home reflect the architect’s philosophy of maintaining simplicity through styling that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also adds to the timelessness of design. Access to northern and natural light, a controlled palette of durable materials that flows from inside to out, and a common theme of tiling, cabinet work, colours, materials and wall finishes that complement or contrast each other have been thoughtfully considered to achieve maximum comfort and minimum maintenance.
“We noticed very early on that the clients enjoyed the verandah of their original home and really used the space,” Craig says. “By letting us understand their needs as casual, easy-living outdoor people we were able to take that and stretch the design boundaries.”
Blessed with a more generously proportioned physical boundary than most, the family has embraced the sizeable openings that have enabled them to wholeheartedly appreciate a flowing connectivity to their own sprawling green space and the natural beauty of Cottesloe’s undulating landscape.