Natural material palette helps the beach house blend into its surroundings


Perched on the rolling sand dunes of Mornington Peninsula National Park, the rugged natural landscape was undoubtedly a key source of inspiration for Dune House, which was designed to blend into its surroundings through a palette carefully considered natural materials and architectural details that mimic the distinctive features of the surroundings.

Raised on slender steel poles, the two-storey beach house enjoys expansive views across plunging dunes, bracing bushland and the beautiful shoreline of St Andrews Beach. Designed by Zenibaker Architects and built by Saltvu Builders, it spans 400m² and consists of two bathrooms, four bedrooms and a main living-dining room, designed as a viewing platform for allow a view of the entire terrain.

“The main living space was designed as an elevated pavilion structure set high on the dune landscape to allow views in all directions,” says architect Michael Baker, principal of Zenibaker Architects, a design studio of the local peninsula specializing in unique and finely crafted architecture on the Mornington Peninsula.

Working in harmony with every element around it, the main structure has been designed to merge cohesively with its background. “The cantilevered roof and deck elements contribute to a feeling of lightness in this home designed to gently touch the natural topography of the sand dunes,” says Michael.

In casual style, the wood-clad beach house evokes traditional coastal shacks, reinterpreted through a skillion-style flat roof form, silver gray cement walls and wood, which were chosen to complement the textures and finishes. colors of the dune landscape. “We wanted to achieve a relaxed beach house feel that wood provides,” says Michael.

Inside, a sense of balance is achieved by incorporating the visual elements of natural wood materials, in harmony with the exterior materials and the landscape, so that nothing seems out of place. “A natural material palette was selected for the interior and exterior, consisting of soft grays and natural woods so that the house blends in with the surroundings inside and out,” says Michael.

In keeping with the natural beauty of the location, Big River Group’s premium plywood products were chosen for their durability, unique visual qualities and natural, warm tones, providing a beautifully aesthetic interior.

ArmourPanel was used for the staircase walls, the entryway and the living and dining room walls, as well as the ceilings. “The ease of installation made it possible to cover these large areas relatively quickly,” explains Michael.

Dune house stairs

ArmourPanel is unique in appearance, with individual species grain structures preserved to maintain their natural characteristics so no two sheets are alike. “It’s the unique visual quality of the large ‘swirling’ crown grain and color variation that creates a real feature wherever it’s used.”

Dune House Cabinets

Big River’s premium engineered wood product, ArmourCab, which is designed specifically for cabinetry and joinery applications, has enabled a beautifully rich and warm kitchen. The kitchen cabinets have been created with dramatic shadow line recesses, adding more dimension and depth to the finish.

Although breathtaking, the natural dune landscape can also offer challenging conditions. The materials were therefore purposely selected not only to evoke the existing topography, but also to provide protection from the expansive and immersive landscape.

“The large skillion-shaped roof sheltering overhead provides extensive weather protection in what can be a harsh coastal environment,” says Michael. “All the materials we have worked with have been chosen with longevity in mind. Due to the location of the property and its exposure to the elements, we required sturdy materials that did not require a high level of maintenance.

Seeking water views, architect Michael Baker and his client set out with a telescopic ladder and a determined resolve. A treacherous adventure that paid off, Dune House is a stunning response to the site, emerging brilliantly alongside the unique constraints of its shifting sand dune surroundings.

Photo credit: Zoso


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