Merricks Beach House by
Kennedy Nolan Architects


Australian office Kennedy Nolan Architects used recycled bricks, concrete and rough-sawn timber to construct this courtyard house near the beach in Melbourne.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects

Merricks Beach House functions as a holiday home and is available to rent on a short-term basis, so Kennedy Nolan Architects was asked to create a flexible building with a structure durable enough to accommodate regularly changing occupants.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects

The single-storey house is arranged over three staggered levels that respond to the natural slope of the site. Rooms are laid out on a U-shaped plan, creating a large courtyard on the western side of the building.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects

Half of the house is given over to social spaces, on the assumption that temporary residents spend more time entertaining and are likely to have children around. To the south, a kitchen leads out to a dedicated barbecue deck, while a sunken living room opens out to the courtyard and a "bunk room" can be used as a second lounge.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects

Two bedrooms are lined up along the eastern side of the building and sit beside a single bathroom. There's no need for much storage, so each room contains just the basic furnishings.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects

The recycled clay bricks were used to construct the lowest sections of the house's walls and are visible both inside and outside the building. In most places they are painted white, but the architects left two unfinished circles to reveal the original colour.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects

Timber wraps over the tops and corners of the walls, while windows are slotted into gaps between the two different materials.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects

Merricks Beach House is one of several new houses in Melbourne featured on Dezeen recently. Others include a residence clad in slabs of travertine and a house with the silhouette of three little buildings. See more houses in Australia.

Photography is by Derek Swalwell.

Read on for more information from Kennedy Nolan Architects:

Merricks Beach House

This small house at Merricks Beach has been designed as a weekender that is available for short term rental. It needed to be an economical build and tough enough for the knocks of a rental market. It is two blocks from the beach. It has no views and had no existing trees on the site.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects

There are the usual line-up of rooms required, and in this instance it is a modest list; but what becomes a more interesting conversation is how you live differently in the weekender.

» No one needs to 'own' a bedroom
» No one needs to shower and leave quickly in the morning
» What you need to store is completely different
» You arrive and unpack; you leave & pack
» You spend more time with others; having guests stay over is common
» There always seems to be more children than adults!
» It is a place to enjoy each other

A courtyard typology ensures maximum privacy and access to northern winter sun, yet in this straightforward floor plan a number of 'in-between' spaces have been considered.

The bunk room which is located on the north edge of the internal courtyard has no doors and the king single bunks sit within their own alcove. This spacefeels dark and private and becomes a second living room when the house swells with people. Within this space thereare different places to be. There is no need for walls or doors. Light forms the threshold.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects

The coastal weekender is not just a summer dream. In winter the hearth is central to this house. Located between the kitchen and living room, a slow combustion fireplace defines another 'in-between' space. There is time here in the colder months to pull up a chair, chat or read. In summer this space dissolves into the open corner of the central deck.

A slight fall across the site allows for the house to have 3 levels. The living pit sits below the central timber deck. It is a soft floor that allows you to be low and look out over the skillion roof to the trees in the surrounding area. The pit edge becomes another of these in-between places. It is a place to sit and wide enough for a futon for an afternoon nap in the winter sun. The edge curves to become the hearth for the fire, finishing in a ledge for the television.

The materials of the build are a big part of what this house is about. It is not a precise build. It feels raw and tough. A language of masonry, concrete and timber was developed. The white painted brickwork to both interior and exterior walls is never punctured by windows. They are always walls, solid and straightforward. There are two moments where a circle has been left, telling the story of the recycled red bricks that the house is made from. The structural concrete slab, rough-sawn timber cladding and concrete block screen wall have been expressed with similar simplicity.

Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects
Floor plan

Location: Merricks Beach, Melbourne, Australia
Architects: Kennedy Nolan Architects
Project type: New house
Completion Date: May 2012
Site area: 850sqm
Floor area: 155sqm
Project Team: Rachel Nolan, Patrick Kennedy, Michael Macleod

  • It’s absolutely true that it is much easier to design a beautiful home when it is only for temporary use. The practicalities of full time living can go right out the window! This is a beautiful example and I would love a holiday here.

  • Ross

    What an absolute gem.

  • Fatima

    I love it. I have a prime beach plot, when I get some money I will build the same.

  • Great looking design, very contemporary.