Refresh * Architecture have designed Northern Rivers Beach House, a home located in South Golden Beach, Australia.
This project was the first house of a subdivision within a dual occupancy development. Located in a beachside setting, the architectural brief for this project was to design a contemporary, yet cost effective three-bedroom house, well connected to nature and featuring subtropical open-plan living in a temperate climate. The initial conception for the design of the house was to integrate with the environment, whilst making an architectural statement.
The restraints of a small site area, low budget and restrictions due to flooding, resulted in exploring the unconventional concept of a cantilevered structure, with both ends overhanging and counterbalancing each other. Using steel for the major structural elements, and timber for the secondary structure, a very economical and bridge-like architecture was created to inspire an interesting and soaring visual effect. Important contribution was provided through the structural engineer, who collaborated with the team to explore and optimise this unconventional structure.
Large openings onto an expansive deck to the north and entry yard to the east provide great connections to the environment, while ensuring adequate shading and screening for privacy. All rooms allow for cross ventilation to take advantage of the cool sea breezes. The mix of simple materials and the abstraction of the timber-battened vernacular of subtropical architecture create movement and scale to the house.
The use of materials like fibre cement sheeting with cover battens, metal sheeting, and aluminium framed windows and doors, provided a very cost effective solution for the external skin. More cost intensive products were chosen selectively to achieve specific outcomes, e.g., a spatial experience of connectedness to the environment with large sliding doors to the deck and extensive glazing on the east side of the house were used. Or, the ceiling was clad in timber, to create a sense of warmth in the living areas. A very short timeline of fifteen months from brief to finished product was achieved within budget, meeting the client’s expectations.
The very compact design of this house follows the most genuine strategy of sustainability with its economical use of resources. However, this house incorporates sustainable design principles, and has been planned to take advantage of natural ventilation and passive solar design. Building materials with sustainable credentials were used, such as, plantation timber, bamboo for flooring, and plywood for ceilings. Materials with high-embodied energy, such as steel, were used for major structural elements, only where an overall saving in structure could be achieved.
Photography by Damien Bredberg