Grand Designs Australia

A Grand Designs Australia home to challenge the sands of time

Set atop two dunes, shifting sand was not the greatest challenge for this Grand Designs Australia home.

Overlooking the Southern Ocean, the three-pod home miraculously straddles a pair of four-meter high sand dunes within the protected Aldinga Scrub conservation area on the South Australian coast.

Architect Max Pritchard had built on sand before. In its loose uncontained form, sand is unwieldy, and almost impossible to predict.

Though when it's finally contained and compacted, sand is incredibly stable. You can pretty much build anything on it - but getting it to that point does mean wreaking a little havoc with the natural environment. 

So interestingly, the greatest challenge for architect Max was not packing unwieldy sand to ensure the home stood still against wild coastal elements. Rather - it was his clients' moral dilemma in building a beautiful house in an environment they desperately wanted to protect.

When imagining their new home amongst the dunes, owners Barry and Robyn wanted to tick a lot of boxes. They wanted to tread lightly, protect the local habitat, and build a structure that wouldn’t disturb or damage the pristine dunes of Aldinga Beach. They also wanted a striking home that would ultimately be sustainable too.

The couple bought the small block for $350,000 and intended to spend a further $750,000 on their grand design.

The design incorporates wrap-around views that take in the hinterland and the ocean. Two separate box-like structures rise from the dunes, connected by a bridge. On one side are the couple’s living spaces, on the other is a music room and Robyn's textile design studio.

The structure has been clad in corten steel, a material that’s designed to rust on the outer layer, as well as provide a rather earthy tone. As the exterior skin it will take the brunt of everything this coastal environment can throw at it.

Barry and Robyn’s Aldinga beach property was a grand commitment on many levels - even in the financial stakes. The project ran 10 percent over budget, which is hardly small change.

The couple are happyily adjusting to the home just the same. And the end design is a masterstroke – providing an intensified, unique connection to the landscape and sea, while borrowing from the brutality of the environment.


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