When their single-storey dwelling no longer met their needs, the owners of a white-painted brick house contacted Melbourne architect Clare Cousins. Although the home is in Mornington – a town on the peninsula overlooking the bay south of Melbourne – it’s placed far back on a sloping site. As a result, the low-slung bungalow has very restricted views of the water, and the couple was looking for improved vistas and more space.
Cousins’ move was not to replace the house, but to build a new structure directly in front of it. The neighbourhood’s planning regulations forbid the kind of multi-storey structure that would best capitalize on the view, but an exception is made for single-storey structures elevated over a carport or storage space. By placing the whole home on stilts, Cousins was able provide a spot with improved views of Port Philip Bay and beyond.
Conceived as a self-contained annex, the structure offers a retreat from the original house. At 48 square metres, the small footprint manages to include a new master bedroom, a living room with basic amenities and a deck generous enough to accommodate outdoor dining.
Cousins clad the pavilion both inside and out with unvarnished timber – a frugal material that contrasts with the original structure, but pays homage to the tradition of timber beach houses. The uninsulated walls also admit traces of the outdoor elements; changes in wind, light and shade are felt inside, a constant reminder of the exterior environment. Timber decking and exposed pine studs tie the pavilion together, and turn the modest construction methods into a striking visual motif.
The relationship between the old and new structures is expressed through a single staircase; clad in fibreglass sheeting, it emits a soft, beacon-like glow after nightfall. A column of white-painted brick rises through the centre of the structure, housing a fireplace for the living room and extending as a chimney above. It’s a charming nod to the original home.