McWilliam House 1990

The McWilliam family had holidayed in their old timber beach shack at Alexandra Headland for over 30 years. Over this time views from the low-set shack had been progressively built out by neighbouring houses. A raised level for a new dwelling platform was proposed to recover these lost views.

The accommodation requirements for the family on the upper level exceeded the areas required for guests and cars at the lower levels. The result was a platform structure, propped and strutted from below to float over the landscape and reclaim a 180-degree panorama of the coastal and inland mountain views.

In contrast to the dynamic strutted, floating appearance of the exterior, the interior of the principal level is a modest light-filled open space. The plan revolves around a central masonry core with an open stairwell which functions as entry, breezeway and lightwell. The stairwell draws light and winter sun into the centre of the plan on all three levels. Light and breeze are balanced by a glazed southern wall at the entry level, and skylight glazing to the east and north on the upper level.

The restricted site area made it impossible to use traditional broad verandah roofs and overhangs to shade walls and protect openings. Instead, vertical sun-screens shield the exterior wall surfaces. These screens, using vertical battens at varied angles and spacing, shelter, shade and create privacy to the south and west. Recessing windows, angled walls and deeper than normal vertical cover battens over joints in the wall cladding also contributed to the sun-screening.


Venice Biennale 1991

Builder Dobson + Corry