The design of this house at Bondi Beach centres on maximising space within strict height and bulk controls while taking advantage of available views, light and breezes. Arising from these controls, architectural imagery is developed referring to the cultural history of Bondi and to the sand and sea. A sweeping copper roof evokes various images ranging from surf boat hulls to breaching humpback whales.
Stone, plywood and intricately formed concrete give spaces character. These materials are complemented by compelling opposites, such as soft sheer curtains with alternating with planes of solidity and transparency. The house attempts to lyrically connect to its beachside site.
The site is a typical block carved out of the Ben Buckler headland. It is hemmed in by houses either side. To the west south west is the primary view of the beach with the rear of the property facing east north east. During summer a nor‘easter is almost always present while in winter winds generally come from the south west to north west.
The client brief was to design a house which could only belong in Bondi and one that was truly a beach house in every sense. A taut connection with the beach while still being a place of refuge was the primary aim. The idea was that to have all that Bondi and the local beach culture offers available at the doorstep but equally be able to close it off when required.
The local Council has strict building development controls which largely governed the external envelope of the house. The maximum height plane follows the slope of the site which gave rise to the final roof form. The maximisation of space within the envelope was critical to the success of the project.Most of the architectural ideas arose from the imagery and metaphors described below. Planning arrangements were inverted from the normal pattern. In this house, all living spaces are on the upper floor due to the better view and the abundant natural light. The bedrooms are located on the lower floor close to the cut stone of the sandstone site?
This house resonates with imagery specific to Bondi Beach and places it surely within its context. Much like the Sydney Opera House, the observer will see their own images in the building, intended by the architect or not. Externally, the double curving copper roof form suggests all manner of forms, both natural and man made. Animal forms such as the humpback whales which pass through Bondi in winter are an emotive metaphor for the viewer. Once the copper weathers and develops its patinated green colour this image will strengthen even more.
Others have suggested the curving roof is like an upturned hull of a boat, specifically the Bondi surf boats which are such an intrinsic part of the local beach culture. This image lyrically connects the house with the history of surf lifesaving in the area. The curved timber and glass façade facing the beach complements the roof form. The curved façade evokes an image of the great arc of the Bondi strip of sand sweeping around the edge of the bay. The bleached timbers evoke the weathered pieces of drift wood which wash up on the Bondi sands after every storm.
The client is an owner builder who has always had a strong interest in architecture and the use of materials. He used his own house to incorporate a wide variety of materials resulting in a rich palette. For example, copper was chosen for the roof as it was the best material that could do a double curve as well as being suitable for an extreme coastal environment. Structural plywood was selected for the stair treads because of its appearance and strength. The plasticity of concrete was utilised by the use of formwork creating different patterns and textures.Location: Sydney, Australia
Architect: Brian Meyerson Architects