Merricks Beach House

Profiling Award-Winning Project, Merricks Beach House, by Design Unity

Design Unity won the award for Residential Design: New House $300K-600K construction cost in the BDAV’s 2018 Building Design Awards for their Merricks Beach House project.

The judges said the project demonstrates an excellent use of composite materials, with a significant openness in the design utilising the outlook to the external rear zone of the property, positioning it well in its natural environment. The internal and external forms clearly demonstrate a connection by way of colour, with a seamless flow. The overall character reads basic, minimal, simple, however comfortable! The minimalist approach has also proven to be timeless, with the opportunity to change internal soft furnishings without the need to change the form.

Warren Jenkins of Design Unity was enlisted to design this home for intended dual purpose. Located in sleepy Merricks on Westernport Bay, the residence needed to serve for now as a weekend getaway. In the future, the owners intend to retire there; they hope the home will foster tranquillity and reflection. The family also wanted the home to have a modest footprint and blend into the natural environment.

To accomplish this brief, Warren’s key design idea for the new home was to introduce a sense of verticality. Going up brings visual interest, a sense of the dramatic, and abundant natural light. It also allowed him to create a striking form that would solve the family’s pragmatic requirements, and also provide them with something unexpected.

To gain the strength required to create this verticality, Warren turned to recycled steel, aware of the durability of the raw material but also its significant carbon footprint.

“The structure is constructed from recycled steel members marked for the scrap heap when the factory they were intended for was not built,” he explains. The industrial span of the steel allows for the “amazing cantilevered forms and large clear spans through the external and internal living zones,” he says.

Externally, to the rear of the home, this translates into a large louvered roof over an alfresco zone. It provides sun protection in summer, yet allows natural light to stream into the home in the winter months. Inside, a vaulted ceiling is the centrepiece of the living room with an open kitchen recessed alongside this space.

Another important vertical element Warren included was to make the most of the established gum trees on the site. These provide privacy and tranquil ambience. Warren’s scheme includes floor to ceiling glazing to enhance the indoor-outdoor connection with the trees.

Key elements in the design were the orientation of the home around a north-facing sun court, and a blade wall that serves both as feature and function. It provides thermal support to the home and includes a fireplace – a lovely place for entertaining.

Warren described this home as having both an ‘industrial and organic feeling’, a successful juxtaposition largely achieved through the use of the steel forms.


Designer:  Design Unity Pty Ltd
Builder:   Owner/Builder
Photography:  Matthew Mallett Photography