Australian beach shack Great Mackerel Beach

Sitting wedged between a cliff and the beach, Hart House is a stunning contemporary interpretation of the classic Australian beach shack.

The site

The house is sited on a steel slope along the shoreline of Great Mackerel Beach, looking out across Pittwater towards the Barrenjoey Headland.


Australian beach shack view Great Mackerel Beach

The form was derived from a wrapped ‘box’ on one side that provides the building with a protective corrugated aluminium shell. This shell protects the house from the harsh salt environment, cold winter southerly winds and bushfire prone landscape. One side of the box has been left fully open to bring in sunlight and coastal views.

The house was inspired by the classic one-room Australian beach shack. Here, the main single ‘room’ of the house is a double-height dining, kitchen and living space. It includes a utility pod with a bathroom and pantry, as well as a loft mezzanine space above.

Australian beach shack Great Mackerel Beach living area

Directly below the living space is the master bedroom, which opens onto a sandstone terrace made with stone from the site.

Key design features include small openings on the sides of the house that puncture through the corrugated aluminium shell to allow cross-ventilation, as well as highlight windows to the rear of the dining area that give views of the cliff and bush landscape.


Interior spaces include birch plywood, timber flooring and concrete benches. Spotted gum is also used extensively internally and externally as flooring, decking and to construct the doors and windows. This material was selected due to its sustainability and bushfire resistant properties.

Doors and windows are framed in Corten, tying in with the red hues of the spotted gym, while also providing shade and protection against the weather.


As the house is only accessible by water, it was important for it to be self-sufficient. The roof houses a large array of solar panels for energy, rainwater is harvested for the occupant’s needs and waste is processed on site.