While Italians gather in their piazzas and the French take their café au lait, whilst people-watching, seated side by side in front of innumerable brasseries, it is fair to say that there’s no nation with more love for the outdoors than the Aussies. Not only more than 80% of country’s population lives within 50 kilometres of the beach, but Australia’s year-round warm weather also encourages the much-enjoyed alfresco activities. Taking the cue from that particular national penchant, Australian architectural practice McBride Charles Ryan have developed this multifaceted single family house, which they describe as ‘a new version of the good old Aussie verandah.’
Located less than 100 kilometers from Melbourne, in a seaside village of Blairgowrie, the 290-square-meters Letterbox House features a striking, inner support structure whose vibrant scarlet contrasts with the panelled, natural wood façade. Completed in 2009, the development has since won multiple awards including the highest honour in Victoria state for Residential Architecture, the Harold Desbrowe-Annear Award.
More about the project:
‘It’s like a half space, half enclosed, half open. Neither in nor out – a new version of the good old Aussie verandah.Its like a giant multi-sensory organ, the sun, the sky, the breeze and the sound and smell of the sea – When you arrive here of an evening and stand here and see the stars, no matter how still it is, you smell the sea – suck it in, it transforms you, reminds you (of what matters), it’s a kind of tonic.
‘We like the buildings that make you smile (not laugh). It makes people smile, a building with the smallest façade on the peninsula – the building begins as the letterbox and unfurls to become this healthy scaled verandah, to some it is an upturned boat, to others it a wave a cliff. We like it being many things – people stop and ask us, we just say it is what it is to you.’
‘The inside of this golden wall is vivid red; the support structure and the support shelves which in time will become deposits of beach memories, the much leafed book, the photos, the bric-a-brac of beach holidays and markers of the quintessential Australian family life – when that happens maybe that will then become ‘my space’ also.’