Bespoke beach house at one with coastal forest

February 17, 2023 BY

Anglesea Beach House, the latest project from local architect Ryan Thompson. Photos: ANDY FORSSMAN/ROSENEATH CREATIVE

A four-year design and construction process has culminated in a pristine Anglesea property that pays homage to its surrounding bushland.

Anglesea Beach House is the latest project from Geelong-based architect Ryan Thompson, whose recent work includes builds across the Surf Coast at Lorne and Torquay, in inner Geelong suburbs and out to the Golden Plains at Batesford.

Tremul Constructions delivered the build, which was officially handed over late last year.

The property retains a portion of its native vegetation.


Nestled in remnant coastal vegetation at Anglesea, the project brief included creating a modern beach house with room for multiple families while retaining the site’s unique tree-lined outlook.

The constant use of timber features and fixtures inside and out and light, airy elements amplified the sense of space and natural serenity.

But the home’s design wasn’t without tough decisions.

The property’s planning overlays, which include bushfire protection, required the removal of native vegetation to make way for the new building.

“[The owners] took a bit of time to get used to the idea that they’re going to have to clear a portion of the site – that was that was what they held dear with it,” Thompson said.

“They had a couple of large trees that sat in front of the original building… and ultimately those trees had to make way for a number of reasons.

“It’s ultimately been a four-year process, which is considerably longer than most projects.

“We met on site early days and we just gave them plenty of time to get used to the idea that the site was going to be a bit different, but there’s still scope to revegetate that site.”

The upstairs outdoor deck is designed for use no matter the conditions.


The site visits proved fruitful to elevating other design elements – literally, in the case of ocean views.

The reluctant removal of large trees opened up new opportunities to maximise vistas across the Surf Coast to its nearby landmarks.

“We managed within the height constraints on the site to lift the first floor up a little bit higher than what it originally was,” Thompson said.

“We really opened up some views and it even they’ve even got views back to the Fairhaven Lighthouse.

“That was a positive feature that we discovered during one of the site meetings.

Timber features are prominent inside and out.


“So as it started to get built, we started to understand the benefits of the design a little bit more.”

While the existing home at the beach site required a knockdown, its replacement was built largely within the previous footprint to optimise planning efficiency.

Timber-based features are prominent especially on the upper floor while the downstairs level, which the architect said “acts like a plinth”, is a concrete sheet material that raises the main living spaces while creating a two-layered design aesthetic.

“The original planning concept was really simple in our eyes, and it was really easy to communicate and get buy in from the client,” Thompson said.

“It ultimately is a central void that runs north-south that zones living from bedrooms on both levels.

“That void has skylights and the idea that we’re bringing the light down from the top level to assist with natural lighting at the ground floor.

“People might make associations with dappled lighting through tree canopies.”

The home’s spacious upstairs deck – a must for its owners who prioritised outdoor living – is on the east side of the house to provide options to seek sun or shade depending on the weather conditions.

Its roof design is also crafted to invite natural light to main living spaces while offering privacy downstairs.

“The eave shape is trying to create a little bit more sort of north glass through the living area, but also a bit of an expression along that facade so it wasn’t all just a straight line,” Thompson said.

“It’s a mimic of tree branches to an extent.

“It’s more open to the living spaces and closed down to the bedroom spaces.

“That was the intent of the design.”

Sustainability is also a key feature of the final product, which includes a solar power system and roof and grey water systems that cater for internal use and will support landscaping as trees regenerate – a process that has already begun.

“We were on site the other day, and some of the grasses and natural vegetation are starting to pop back up in the soil,” Thompson said.

“That was a nice little circle moment.”

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