Natural wonder

Australian House & Garden Magazine|June 2020

Natural wonder
On Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, a spectacular coastal site now has a beautifully sophisticated home to match.
Stephen Crafti 
Situated on an escarpment with views to Bass Strait, this property’s location is undeniably one of its star attractions. The owners, Andrew and Elaine Stewart, had been living in this idyllic spot for decades, in a three-level 1980s home that had long passed its use-by date by 2014. “We spent at least two years looking for another site, but where else would you find these views?” says Andrew. The Stewarts decided to stay put and build anew.

This new home, designed by architect Michael Baker of Zenibaker Architects, is a striking contemporary structure that evokes the beach houses on stilts of the 1950s. Unlike those Mid-Century homes, however, this one is supported by massive columns and trusses. “I wanted to express the form of a postwar beach house but I also wanted to create the sense of walking under a pier,” says Michael. The concrete steps and a water feature at the home’s entrance are further references to the nearby ocean. The link to the water was always going to be there: “Andrew has spent a lifetime on ships, so the sea is in his DNA,” says Michael.

Although Andrew and Elaine were open to a number of design styles, they were clear that their prime objective was that this would be home for the long term. “We wanted the kitchen, living areas and bedrooms, including the main bedroom, all on one level in case we struggle with stairs in the future,” says Elaine. They also specified wide corridors and doorways for ease of access and installed a lift in case the stairs they do have become too much.

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June 2020