Architects EAT: bunker house on the Australian coast

Bellows House is a project by Australian Architects EAT in Flinders, a seaside town near Melbourne. The elongated building made of concrete blocks looks like a bunker from the street, but inside it is a comfortable family home for a vacation on the ocean.

When the clients first called Architects EAT, it was about designing a beach house. However, the address turned out to be anything but beachy. The site was located quite far from the water and overlooked the road along which local residents get to the ocean. “I realized that it was necessary to design a city house, which, unlike a light beach vernacular, would be solid, anchored in sandy soil. It will also provide privacy to the occupants from the street,” explains Albert Mou, co-founder of Architects EAT.

The long white facade of varying degrees of opacity and the articulated roof pyramids create a strange, but unique and therefore attractive image. The building became a landmark of the city; local residents nicknamed it the “Flinders Pyramids”. And visitors stop, driven by curiosity, try to look inside and wonder who lives here and whether this is a residential building at all.

Although the home is physically and visually heavy, it includes all the features that make for a beach lifestyle. The southern end of the residence is U-shaped: a low wall, also made of concrete blocks, surrounds the courtyard, closing it from the street. Sliding windows open the living room to the garden, where a barbecue area, a fire pit, and an outdoor dining room are planned: this is where the family gathers and relaxes. There are two outdoor showers next to the garage where you can rinse off your surfboards and beach equipment.

Inside, the concrete masonry is left exposed, and the pyramidal roofs rise upward in reverse steps. Stepping can be seen in many interior details: in window openings, benches and even door handles. “I’ve always been fascinated by the possibilities of concrete: its fluid nature as well as its strength,” says Moe. To realize the complex geometric shapes, the architect turned to an experienced civil engineer and concrete master for help.

Perhaps because this is the client’s second home, it gave the architect more freedom to experiment. The family wanted a different experience than their city housing offered: a home that allowed them to escape reality, to hide from civilization, a home that their children would yearn for when they grew up. “I hope they don’t forget the summer holidays they spent under these concrete pyramids that looked like giant tents,” says Albert Moe.

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