Architects: Atelier Andy Carson
Project: Headland Pavilion-Like House
Project Team: Andy Carson, Tom Potter, Catherine Bailey-Smith, Alvin Tsang
Location: Gerringong, New South Wales, Australia
Area: 612.0 m2
Project Year 2017
Photographs: Michael Nicholson
Text by Atelier Andy Carson
This new pavilion-like house designed by Atelier Andy Carson is a sanctuary from its harsh surrounds, perched on a sprawling coastal site overlooking Werri Beach, New South Wales. Green pastures and paddocks running dairy cows line this 150-acre property on one side, rugged coastal cliffs and ocean on the other.
The four bedroom, four-and-a-half-bathroom main home consists of three linked pavilions, wrapped around a protected courtyard. The architects’ design is inspired by the spectacular landscape. A response to the dramatic 150 acre site where a ridge connects the Illawarra escarpment to the sea.
The 180-degree views and breathtaking backdrop called for a respectful celebration of the location. Instead of providing the same view throughout the house with wall to wall glass, the design creates considered framed glimpses of what lies outside. Meanwhile, a storm-viewing room pays tribute to the drama of extreme weather fronts creeping up from the ocean. Extruded volumes wrap around a protected courtyard, while fingers at each end cantilever toward specific framed ocean and rural views.
The clients, Beau Neilson and her husband, Jeffrey Simpson, set the brief based on a clear understanding of how they live. No strangers to the design scene (Beau is daughter of art patrons Judith & Kerr Neilson), the couple desired an elegant, comfortable residence for all conditions. Their brief also called for a modest two-bedroom guest house on the site to cater to visitors and extended family.
This modest pavilion-like house explores the vernacular farm shed, with a plan that’s charmingly simple yet highly considered in its detail. Located on a quintessentially NSW South Coast dairy farm. The design explores the vernacular steel portal frame typology in a highly refined and detailed way. The simple rectilinear floor-plan aligned with the long edges facing North/South, sets up a strong primary axis as these also make best use of the ocean and rural views. The other strong axis is that of the East/West which aligns with the inner circulation path and the other major view to the signature Illawarra escarpment in the west. The point of intersection between these axis forms a runway of timber decks on either side of the building. At the point of entry, a framed view through the building to the ocean on the south side is formed.
The architect and builders teamed up with a local engineering firm to develop the operable façade. Large copper panels that cover the entire western façade can be adjusted to any angle, or fully open to light and views via hydraulic cylinders concealed in the floor space. Occupants are treated to a sensory show as the setting sun penetrates deep into the living space.
Visitors are encouraged to slow down from arrival – the home is accessed only by foot. The project’s sustainability features include utilising only tank water (harvested from the roof) and on-site sewage treatment. Atelier Andy Carson has created a robust family home that actively explores the relationship between building and landscape.