6 min read

An inconvenient truth

An inconvenient truth
Wilson Beach House, with its "brilliant" wall of sliding windows, at Dicky Beach, Queensland. Photography Jon Linkins.
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In the quest for maximum convenience—more space, more glass, more stuff—architect Aaron Peters suspects we’re overlooking the beauty and gifts of inconvenience.

IN 1969, John Railton designed a holiday house for the Wilson family at Dicky Beach, on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast. It’s a compact, two-storey, timber-lined box with bedrooms on a mezzanine floor overlooking a tall, double-height living and dining room. The overt indulgence of this otherwise economical construction is the five double-hung windows lining the rear elevation. The lower panels are solid plywood, and the upper panels are clear-glazed. Each window bay is over-scaled—remarkably so. They are large enough to walk through them when they’re open, stepping up over a long timber bench built into the window sills. 

The Wilson Beach House’s wall of windows is a transformative instrument. When the façade is rendered opaque at the lower level by the closed panes of solid plywood, the living room feels restful and secluded. Silhouetted tree canopies and rich blue skies can be seen through the high-level glazing above. Lowering the glazed window panes opens the interior to the presence of the beachfront and the rhythm of the ocean. Cool breezes waft through, bringing a salt-laced aroma of a vast, liquid horizon. 

When the solid panels are raised in their frames, the intensity of the sunlight is dimmed, and the outlook shifts to a low, more immediate panorama of contorted coastal tree limbs. The internal floor folds into the dune (once native vegetation, now a lawn). The house becomes a sheltered cleft from which to imbibe the sublime presence of nature or a convenient stepping-off point from which to inhabit the beachfront. 

It’s brilliant. I wish I’d designed it.

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