Byron Bay House

By John Burgess Architects

Byron Bay House-Photograph John Burgess

How does the project respond to its context, contribute to the public domain for example street or neighbourhood?

The Byron Bay residence is located in a suburban setting on an irregular shaped site that falls towards the street. The lot is a corner block that forms the pivot for a change in direction in the street alignment. A secondary dwelling and double carport is set in a splayed relation to the main "T" shaped residence. The two dwellings address and lie parrallel to the adjoining neighbours creating a central, communal, outdoor space fanning outward toward the north east. This configuration also creates a private northern courtyard to the rear residence and north facing outdoor space off the secondary dwelling living area. 

What problems did you have to solve?

The irregular nature of the site and restrictions on available site area, posed complex design constraints. The block is a tapered, corner allotment that has 3.5m wide open stormwater drainage easements running along its south and west boundaries. The street front setback is 6.0m. The client brief was to provide a three bedroom residence and a one bedroom secondary dwelling on the relatively small site area available for building. By splaying the two dwellings in relation to one another and stepping the buildings down the sloping site, we were able to create dwellings featuring large glass openings that enjoy communal space but provide a comfortable balance of private and public space whilst addressing the street in an open way.

What was the contribution of others, including engineers, landscape architects, artists, builders and other specialists to the outcome?

The complex constraints on the site and the clients restricted budget but desire for a high end aesthetic meant that careful collaboration between builder, engineer, architect and landscape designer was required. Strict adherence to the budget was maintained by the works being costed from the initial sketch plan stage and monitored throughout the design and construction phase. The open stormwater drainage easement bounding the site on two sides was a catalyst for a flowing, rock featured landscape solution and the water circulation around the site has been carefully integrated.  

How would you describe the value of design in relation to the cost of the project?

The client had a limited budget but was aware she had purchased a tricky site. A decision was made to utilise a significant portion of her allocated budget on achieving a design that would take advantage of the sites complexities and provide a home that she could enjoy for many years to come whilst providing some potentail additional income from the site. The secondary dweilling allows the option for her to downsize sometime in the future whilst not having to fully relocate.

What are some important sustainability aspects of the project?

The two dwellings have been carefully oriented to enjoy generous north sun access to both indoor and outdoor spaces. Concrete floor slabs act as heat banks. Stormwater is harvested on site and circulated for re-use. The main dwelling features full height sliding glass doors to both north and south elevations capturing the cross breezes and no air conditioning is required. All rooms feature louvre windows and large fixed glass panels.

What do you consider to be the benefits of the project for the client, users and the community?

This project shows that a complex site configuration and obstacles such as drainage easements can provide the catalyst for creative solutions that provide an end result more dynamic than a traditional unhindered rectangular block. The residence, with its bold lines and its limited use of timber (flooring over slabs and single species hardwood privacy screens), shows that a small budget tropical house can be unashamedly contemporary in appearance.

Other general comments

The approved building envelope encroached upon the front set back by 2.5m. By careful negotiation with council, the benefits of the building alignment on two angled frontages was seen as a successful resolution on a complex site. Exploring solutions outside the parameters set by council's can, at times, be the difference between a project that may not satisfy a clients brief and one that is successful..