Ocean Liner

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It's a long story...

Designed to feel like an ocean liner, it was built as a five-star holiday home for an overseas businessman and his family. Named WA’s Home of the Year in 2006, it remains an icon on Perth’s northern coastline and is the perfect home to kick off our series of design retrospectives as we look back at some of the homes and entertaining stories that are woven through Oswald’s history.

The (almost) unlimited budget and inspirational design vision for the landmark North Beach home are legendary, as is, just quietly, the fully catered party the delighted owners threw at the end of the build for the Oswald trades who worked on the house. It’s said the Englishman, a wine connoisseur, even laid on special wines for the occasion.

But back to the home. The clients’ brief was clear. This was to be a home that would be timeless, standing proud for generations to come. One of several properties they owned across the globe, their Perth ‘beach house’ was to capture as much of the enviable ocean vista as possible. It also needed to be a welcoming summer retreat for family and friends who regularly came to stay.

As part of the design brief, the architect was even flown to Europe for a holiday with the family while they discussed initial ideas and sketches. The result proved to be a heavenly 935sqm of seaside luxury over three levels, with ocean views from all but three of the 25 rooms. (And two of the three rooms without views are the home theatre and the wine cellar.) With six bedrooms, seven bathrooms, a 20m-long lap pool, a lift, a breakfast terrace and a wrap-around balcony, it became a supremely comfortable ‘home away from home’.

Looking at things differently

While the beachfront location with its brutal onshore winds dictated several elements of the design (such as the sheltered alfresco area for year-round outdoor dining), it’s said the owners wanted the home to look and feel like an ocean liner.

One of the big features is the stretch of reverse-angled windows across the main living area. Not only do the sloping glazed sections give the home its distinctive shape, but also – just like on the bridge of a ship – they reflect the western sun downwards, offering up unimpeded ocean views.

You can especially pick the ‘ship-shape’ inspiration at night, when the house is lit up, like a cruise ship lighting up the horizon. The reverse-angled windows and the jutting upper storeys echo the lines of an ocean-going liner, and when you’re standing in the main living space the road below disappears so that all you see is the ocean stretching for miles ahead.

Soaring sections of glass to the sides of the home make the most of the home’s ‘sawtooth’ design. There is a curved roof and towering stone pillars, along with internal stone feature walls, a dramatic double-height lobby and a floor-to-ceiling stone fireplace.

What’s more, the stone used extensively inside and out is not simply a veneer, but a structural element that had to be meticulously engineered as part of the custom home design. The story goes that the stonemason who handpicked and chiselled each piece of stone arrived on site on Day 1 of construction. He was the last to leave three years later.

One of the homeowners was even quoted years later in a national newspaper story on the house, saying: “A lot of people who worked on the house went the second mile. We had great trades. We changed many details as we went. The brickies put up with a lot of changes. There isn’t one easy long run of wall in the whole place. It was difficult, but nothing a slab of Crownies at the end of the week wouldn’t fix.”

Custom home cellar

As part of the custom design, the owners had hoped to carve a cool wine room straight out of rock, but this proved unfeasible. Thinking outside the square, it’s said excavated rock was used to sculpt a limestone cellar using a traditional concrete vault as the base. Proving that in the world of custom home design there is often more than one way to do things, the new temperature-controlled cellar looked just like the real deal, but without the downsides.

In fact, we’re proud to say that we have many trades working for us today who proved their craftsmanship and attention to detail on this home. And needless to say, at Oswald, we still love a challenge, especially when it comes to the tricky bits that demand that little extra fine-tuning and innovation.

Winner of the 2006 WA HIA Home of the Year
Winner of the 2006 Perth Home of the Year
Winner of the 2006 HIA John Pietersen Award
Winner of the 2006 Innovation in Housing Project of the Year
Winner of the 2006 Outdoor Project of the Year

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