The name Portsea Sleepout is akin to mistaking a Great Dane for a chihuahua: overly humble, and not entirely indicative of the beast’s true nature.
What the architects – Melbourne-based firm Mitsuori Architects – call a “sleepout” is actually a fully functional, highly contemporary and deceptively scaled residential project. Located within the grounds of an existing family beach house in a secluded coastal setting, the new addition appears as a single-storey (albeit high-ceilinged) structure from the outside, while in fact the accommodation comprises three bedrooms split over five distinct levels.
The architects say that the design concept was “to create a building as a landscape element that forms a backdrop to the existing tennis court”. In reality, the two are engaged in a symbiotic relationship based on mutual complementarity: the rectilinear, weathered grey-clad form of Portsea Sleepout appears as an un-intrusive timber fence behind the tennis court, while the hyper-operable wooden shutters – which can be opened as either venetians or swing-out window frames – render the tennis court as backdrop to the home’s interior activity.
Not only was Portsea Sleepout required to complement the focal tennis court, it also needed to nestle comfortably amongst the site’s rich vegetation. Climbers have been placed to grow over the walls of the home between the alternating shutter panels, so that the “simple fence structure” appears as if it has been rendered partly in timber, partly in plant life.
In line with the architect’s self-professed design concept, the interior scheme has been arranged around the tennis court. A central living and recreation space has been positioned just above court level, and three separate bedrooms bookend this on the vertical plane. A concealed roof deck provides additional viewing space for guests to look out over the court activity, and to the hillside views beyond.