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    Australia’s most popular architect-designed house for 2015 revealed

    Nathan Johnson

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    It may have drawn inspiration from Japanese architecture but Villa Marittima at St Andrews Beach in Victoria has now left its own mark on Australia shores by taking out the People’s Choice Award at the 2015 National Architecture Awards.

    Designed by Robin Williams Architect (RWA), Villa Marittima was chosen by the public from the 11 residential projects that are in the running for the residential categories at the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA) National Architecture Awards.

    RWA’s cliffside residence now lays claim to the title of Australia’s most popular architect-designed house for 2015, garnering the most public votes ahead of a formidable field or projects that included designs from Peter Stutchbury, MAKE Architecture, Andrew Maynard, Charles Wright, Smart Design Studio and more.

    Villa Marittima was also the recipient of an Architecture Award at the 2015 Victorian Architecture Awards announced back in July, the judges expressing then that the level of detail and architectural response to the site was not to be understated.

    “To view Villa Marittima simply as a meticulously detailed example of minimalist architecture would be an incomplete interpretation,” reads the jury citation.

    “This home presents a memorable series of living experiences which arise from unique architectural responses to site, brief and the surrounding landscape.”

    The winners of the National Architecture Awards as judged by the National Jury will be announced on Thursday 5 November in Brisbane.

    Photography is by Dean Bradley. 

    ABOUT THE PROJECT

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    From the architect.

    A private translucent polycarbonate wrapped enclosure by the ocean, filled with natural light: with simple, expansive and flexible spaces. 

    Approaching from the rear driveway the ocean is not visible. Discovery begins: as with a child at the beach, jumping from the car and running up the sand dune full of excitement to discover the ocean. 

    A large door opens to a long ramped floor – the dune. Ascending the ramp the first view is the ever changing sky, next the horizon, then the breathtaking ocean panorama. 

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    The focus of the villa is the sensual calmness and energy of water. 

    The main translucent living space hovers between ocean and pool, incorporating Living, Dining and Kitchen. In its essential simple rectangular “Salon” form, the Kitchen slides into the side wall to disappear. 

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    From the “Salon”, a submerged yellow walkway provides a path through the pool to a sliding panel that hides a “secret garden”, a private translucent grassy hillside rising to an even more expansive coastline view. 

    Below the “Salon” a large flexible space edges a dramatic large window into the pool and a reflecting pond below a powerful cantilever. 

    There are no stairs in the villa: movement is gentle. 

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    SUSTAINABILITY INITIATIVES

    Coastal exposure requires careful material usage. Materials have been selected for their longevity in this salt exposed location. 

    The structure is hot dipped galvanised steel (for strength), wall cladding is highly insulative multi-celled polycarbonate panels (plastics do not rust) - which also provide light to the interior, reducing energy costs. Roofing is environmentally suitable TPO membrane. 

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    These main elements also are factory produced generally to size, and then minimally trimmed on site as necessary: hence very little wastage is produced. Only two medium sized rubbish skips were used for the total project. All other metal offcuts were recycled. 

    All of these main elements are also recyclable. 

    Floor and roof areas are also well insulated, both internally and externally (where possible). 

    Other materials and contractors were sourced locally to minimise travel time. 

    Spaces are kept simple which limits material usage, and service area space and numbers (bathroom and kitchen) are limited to minimise the usage of materials and fittings. 

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    There is no air-conditioning: natural air flow through the simple spaces is maximised, with air flow over the pool giving an additional cooling impact. Heating is energy efficient natural gas fired in-screed hydronic. 

    Lighting is low energy floor mounted flourescent strips: used only after dusk as the dwelling is naturally lit throughout the day and dusk periods through the translucent walls. 

    All black and grey waste is treated on site in a three stage process, with a 10000 litre water tank also located under the vehicle parking area. Taps are low water usage, and sensor controlled where possible. 

    The swimming pool is solar heated. 

    The original small dwelling on the site was significantly recycled locally. 

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