The Blairgowrie Beach Club

Blairgowrie, Victoria, Australia

A unique Australian beach house, inspired by Swedish Functionalism, which captures the spirit of a local beach club.

Our clients, Fio and Katarina came to Bower seeking a comfortable and practical beach house on their site in Blairgowrie, where their well-loved small fibro beach shack stood. They had spent many summers in the house and along with the tennis court, the site had become a special place for their family, a focal point for their lives. With their two children now into adulthood, they sought a new house large enough to accommodate several families and friends, but with modest proportions to retain a feeling of warmth and intimacy, reminiscent of the original shack. The new house also needed to be highly adaptable so it wouldn’t feel too large when only Fio and Katarina were to stay there.

As we grew older, and our children became adults, we wanted to retain this relationship with our beach retreat. And even more than that, we wanted to create a space which became a legacy for our families.

Fio De Vincentis, Client, Blairgowrie Beach Club

After seeing some of our coastal architecture, Fio and Katarina admired their relaxed feel and the way they connect the inhabitants with the site and landscape through lovingly considered design.

Bower’s approach to the project was so different, so welcoming. You had US in mind not your own egos. I knew the Bower team would be the right fit when we in our first meeting got questions like ‘who will use the house’, ‘what kind of people are you’, ‘how do you want to feel in the house.

Katarina De Vincentis, Client, Blairgowrie Beach Club

Born in Sweden, Katarina carries a strong sense of her Swedish heritage which extended to the family’s brief for the house. She introduced us to ‘Funkis’, the design concept of Swedish Functionalism developed early in the 20th Century, which was to be reflected in the design of the house. The people-centric design concept of ‘Funkis’ drove the Bower team to always revert back to simplicity, to focus on the inhabitants relaxation and enjoyment, as well as the honest expression of materials in the way the house is put together. It informed our approach to design, from the overall concept all the way to the construction details. The classic red Swedish lake house typology was also a key driver for the external expression of the project.

Fio’s Italian heritage also influenced the brief, to be reflected in subtle ways throughout the house. The couple are both lovers of mid-century furniture and style, so the contemporary house needed to be able to sit in harmony with vintage interior elements.

The result is an utterly unique coastal home that captures the social spirit of a beach club, reflecting the clients’ history and culture, born out of a deep connection and understanding between architect and client.

Good architecture should facilitate positive engagement and experiences between people, and this house does that magnificently.

Fio De Vincentis, Client, Blairgowrie Beach Club

A long, narrow and sloping north-facing site presented opportunities and challenges. The design cleverly harnesses natural light, provides a myriad of visual connections to the coastal surround and an effortless flow from the front deck to rear tennis court through a series of interconnected spaces. It was also important to the clients for the house to have a positive relationship with the street and surrounds and to facilitate an easy, enjoyable return from the beach, having both a formal entry and a relaxed entry via the front deck.

Hardy, coastal-friendly materials were essential to incorporate externally – Australian timbers, brickwork, blockwork and granite are durable, practical and age gracefully, adding character to the building over time. The external cladding, pergola and window frames were treated with a product to evenly pre-age the timber, both protecting the material and creating a beautiful light tone – a nod to Scandinavian design and craftsmanship.

Further references to Sweden continue throughout the house, including the deep ‘Falu röd’ featured at the entry, which captures Katarina’s memory of the traditional Swedish holiday lake houses of the same colour. The kitchen is a contemporary take on functional mid-century Scandinavian kitchens, a vintage green hue and the joinery detailing here are unique additions.

The large neon Vespa sign in the rumpus room is Fio’s addition that speaks to his Italian ancestry. His cocktail bar, rumpus room setup with pool table and the bbq on the front deck are his treasured spaces.

The decks and living areas are created from a series of interconnected spaces, they maintain their intimate feel even though they are comfortable and generous in size.

Fio De Vincentis, Client, Blairgowrie Beach Club

Simple, functional bedrooms and a bunk room allow the house to comfortably sleep 16 people. The house is cleverly zoned to allow Fio and Katarina to close off the parts of the house that they would not be using when only they are visiting.

The Bower team carefully considered the holiday rituals of the family – returning from the beach; relaxing outside; playing on the tennis court – to name a few. The large protected outdoor spaces, a bathroom with internal and external access, an outdoor shower and a spot for towels and beach gear are some examples which respond to these rituals and allow for ease and enjoyment of these activities. Practical consideration of the zoning and flow of the spaces was paramount to this project.

Long views through the house provide cross ventilation and visual connection from front to back of the site, making the house ideal for entertaining family and friends across several spaces.

In the spirit of Swedish design culture, this house is both practical and beautiful, providing a timeless and treasured place for the family for many years to come.

We ended up with the ‘happy place’ we always wanted, which is equally beautiful, functional and fantastic.

Fio De Vincentis, Client, Blairgowrie Beach Club

Passive and active design are essential to the success of the Blairgowrie Beach Club. North-facing windows flood the kitchen and dining area with natural light and facilitate abundant natural ventilation. The insulated concrete slab provides thermal mass to stabilise temperatures inside. The home is packed with insulation, and is meticulously sealed. A solar array covering the entire roof powers the home and sub deck water tanks allow rainwater to be harvested for irrigation.

More images and a video to come after the Blairgowrie Beach Club is published later in 2024.

The other important aspect of the brief was to create a connection from the living areas in the front to the tennis court at the back… I feel this has been achieved in a spectacular way. Even when you first arrive and step onto the front deck, a glimpse of the tennis court can be obtained…down the long corridor, creating a sense of anticipation. And this is backed up again by an aerial view of the tennis court from the upstairs corridor, giving most of our guests a pleasant surprise.

Fio De Vincentis, Client, Blairgowrie Beach Club

Project Info
Traditional People and Custodians

The Boonwurrung/Bunurong peoples are the Traditional Owners of this land

Architecture and Interior Design

Bower Architecture & Interiors


Fido Projects


Shannon McGrath

Landscape Design

Kate LePage Garden Design

Dining Room Art

Designed by our client’s son Alexander De Vincentis, crafted by Fido Projects


Jess Kneebone