Exterior shot of Barwon Heads Villa Project Bower Architecture
Barwon Heads Villa
Barwon Heads, Victoria
Ideally located on a corner block in the coastal town of Barwon Heads, Bower Architecture was provided the opportunity to create a spacious and private beach villa that met the client’s brief for a home ingrained with the feeling of barefoot, casual luxury.
Bower Architecture
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Bower Architecture & Interiors

Bower Architecture is a Melbourne architecture and interior design practice formed in 2005 by Architect Directors Chema Bould, Jade Vidal and Anna Dutton. They strive to create timeless places that are loved by their clients and those who experience them. Their architecture sits outside of fashion and is grounded in a collective view that the best and most sustainable design that is built to last and celebrated for decades to come.

Barwon Heads Villa Project Bower Architecture 1 LR

The Story Behind The Design

Having been referred from a previous Bower client, the owners of the Barwon Heads property were familiar with the style of work the Melbourne architectural firm produce and shared a similar appreciation for quality design.“The client came to us wanting a spacious and elegant beach villa for themselves and their guests,” says project architect Anna Dutton. “The words the client used in the initial briefing were a feeling of ‘minimal fuss’ and ‘a barefoot, casual luxury’.”

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Barwon Heads Villa Project Bower Architecture 7 LR
The surrounding streets feature timber homes with gable roofs so we’ve created an abstracted gable form inspired by the streetscape but purposely not replicating it.

Anna Dutton

Barwon Heads Villa Project Bower Architecture 4 LR

This space wasn’t to be a family beach house as such, according to Anna. The couple envisaged the home was to be a place for them to enjoy by themselves and in the company of their adult friends and family.The client emphasised the need for the house to be consistent with the Barwon Heads style they loved.While the win of the project was hearing the client’s love for the house, designing it wasn’t without its challenges. “The main challenges for this house was achieving privacy and warmth given it’s on an exposed corner site,” says Anna. The position of the block drove the L-shaped plan that wraps around the corner “balancing a feeling of presence and but also gives ultimate privacy to the interior”.

Barwon Heads Villa Project Bower Architecture 9 LR

The layout of the home is sensitive to its surrounds, acting as a link between the two corner streets and their forms. Leaving the site unfenced was a deliberate gesture to encourage engagement with the streetscape. “It continues to contribute to the openness of the context. There are a lot of open front gardens around that area and its part of that relaxed Barwon Heads feel which the client was hoping to tap into with the house design.”While the black butt timber façade is more closed off than many of the neighbouring houses with windows kept to a minimum to ensure privacy, light isn’t compromised. The front is punched by a small, side courtyard providing a visual opening onto the semi-private outdoor space.

Barwon Heads Villa Project Bower Architecture 10 LR

Take A Closer Look

The inclusion of water into the site was another important aspect for the client and as the design evolved, Anna explained there was an opportunity to integrate the pool and the house. This she admitted, was architecturally a challenge yet resulted in beautiful light entering the interior, as well as incredible reflections and the soothing sound of water.Interestingly, by positioning the pool to wrap into the architecture, the opportunity for natural ventilation was apparent via a slight opening in the window at the end of the pool. Anna describes the feature: “Through the natural chimney stack effect that’s achieved in the house through the high-level windows, you get a lovely cool breeze that comes across the water and into the house.”

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Signature Element

Beyond privacy and materiality, creating vistas and layering sightlines within the interior of the home was a deliberate design decision to ignite a sense of understated luxury.“Upon entering the house, you get this lovely long vista over the pool and when you move into the more private zones, you get some lovely long vistas that are quite surprising.”

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On both a macro and micro scale, this house has been personally tailored to the client and the context. On a macro scale, the surprises of this beach villa continue as the interior spaces open up revealing a north-facing living space with a wooden, cut-oak finished angular ceiling. This visually-dramatic statement was another deliberate design decision to provide the clients with high ceilings in the kitchen and living areas, and further connects the home to the streetscape.By cutting the gable design in half, Bower were able to create an abstracted form to use as a device for incorporating more light and further supporting the natural ventilation into the interior. Cleverly, they slid the gable back along the plan which created the ceiling height they desired, enhancing the feeling of the living spaces.

Barwon Heads Villa Project Bower Architecture 8 LR

“I love the natural Lagano stone and the timbers we used. They’re fundamental and the pairing of those materials is a winning combination,” explained Anna. The natural tones of the black butt timber which will grey off over time and the internal oak marry beautifully with the mottled grey Lagano limestone flooring and the warmth of the alba marble bench tops.The Lagano Project Stone in particular, is one material that has perfectly fulfilled the client’s brief of the feeling of “barefoot luxury”, according to Anna. “The texture of it, the warmth, the tone and the irregular sized pieces. It also feels delicious under foot when you walk barefoot. We felt those elements combined to great that feeling of relaxed luxury.”

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