Located only steps from the sand of one of Sydney’s favourite beaches, the Craven family are lucky enough to reside in a humble yet bodacious house in the unpretentious beachside community of Freshwater Beach, or ‘Freshie’ as the locals know it. I walk past this home most weekends on my way for a for a dip at Freshie, and find myself dreaming that I am that person perched up high on the sun drenched window bench, reading the paper with my granola and yoghurt brekkie just after my morning swim in the ocean.
Brewster Hjorth Architects are the team behind this “finely crafted vessel for living”, creating an elegantly robust home that is exposed yet protected from the elements and the crowds that flock to this little slice of heaven on Sydney’s northern beaches. The conceptual origin of the Freshwater House design was inspired by local precedents of seasoned shacks that cling to the rocks and cliffs on the southern end of the beach, completely exposed to the elements yet over the years they have grown to become part of their surroundings. This rustic nature of the beach, its dunes, cliffs, rocks and rugged infrastructure is reflected in the material palette of concrete, hardwood, glass, steel and copper left to age gracefully in their raw state.
With a challenging site of compact dimensions, exposed location, overlooking neighbours, and gawking passing beach goers (like myself) this carefully detailed and constructed house has accommodated a family of five whose lifestyle is the beach and the water. The ground floor is a series of protective concrete walls built into a gentle sloping site to create a sheltering courtyard that is framed by the children’s bedrooms while hard against the rear boundary is a concrete garden pavilion. A timber box clad in recycled hardwood planking provides an elevated platform for the family living space with an expansive view of the beach and the coast toward North Head. A recessed white cube tops the house forming the parent’s bedroom and ensuite, and a large rooftop terrace to entertain with an impressive view.
Passionate about mid-century timber furniture the pieces from Catherine Craven’s collection have played a significant role in shaping the interior aesthetic along with fitted joinery of Ebony and Oregon timber veneers. Contracting these finer surfaces of timber veneers, translucent acrylics and smooth stucco finishes is the raw concrete and hardwood that flows on from the exterior.
This house is a refreshing addition to the naturally beautiful beachfront and we hope that more architecturally designed homes of this pedigree pop up in the area.