Seal rocks is a tiny village on the east coast of Australia, surrounded both by Myall Lakes national park and Great Lakes - Port Stephens Marine Park. The Lighthouse was established in 1875 and the nearby protected beach fringe inhabited informally soon after by fishermen. The road that runs alongside the beach was built on first, with all buildings sharing a simplicity of form and detailing, necessitated by the unskilled nature of their creators. The road that runs away from the beach (thomas rd) was partially built on in the late 60's and then the last 10 blocks were sold off in 2003. There are 74 blocks of land, on which are approximately 50 houses and one shop.
This house was designed for leisure. Seal Rocks is all about surfing, the bush and the ocean. The attributes of a family home have been distilled down to the basics, moulded to suit the site and optimised for holidays.
The design is focused on the spaces between pavilions, either as garden or as deck. This encourages outdoor living and occupants only retreat inside when the weather doesn’t cooperate. It also creates sense of privacy and enclosure to the outdoor living area. It also frames a sky view which is animated at night by the lighthouse beam passing overhead.
The intention was to build an uncomplicated holiday house, which could also be let out for rental income. The existing original cottages are slowly being lost as properties change hands, so the approach was to build in a way that retains the language of the existing built forms of Seal Rocks and to be respectful of context.
There is a gentle rise on the site to the rear and an outlook to the bush, front and rear. The Rural Fire Service placed a 10m setback to the rear, enforced a fire fence and dictated that all the buildings in the street had to be partly flame zone and level 3 bushfire protection.
Materials throughout relate to the context of the village, are economical and corrosion resistant. There are no ‘city’ materials like glass splashbacks, ceramic tiles or polished stone. The walls are lined with fibre cement and timber batten – or just corrugated metal sheet. Locally milled blackbutt decking and custom orb roofing are other dominant materials both of which are used in existing buildings. Construction methods and detailing are intentionally basic, for reasons of economy and working in with the local tradesmen. Steel is avoided and items such as the plastic external light fittings, were chosen both for economy and long life. Floors are polished particleboard, all joinery uses formply as a finished face.
On site the house collects and stores it’s own water, treats it’s own sewage with a wet composting worm farm. The roof feeds to 27000 L of water storage for domestic use, with an additional 15000L for firefighting. For extra protection a pump supplies the fire fighting sprinklers at roof and garden level with the domestic supply. Some of this lands on the roof, then recirculates, extending the protection time.
Architect – Bourne Blue Architecture Builder – John Vasilakis Engineer – Izzat Date completed – 2007