Huddled on a suburban street lined with semis and medium rise apartments, only the tanned surfers strolling by in thongs and bathers suggest that this Bondi home is only a short stroll from Australia’s most famous stretch of sand.
The existing semi, hemmed in by its neighbours, was a dark, warren of rooms which turned their back on a small, love-less, rear courtyard. Noticeably absent from the home was the bleached, white sunlight synonymous with Australian seascapes. The brief was to re-imagine this suburban semi as a contemporary beach house, capturing not only the physical elements of a beach landscape; the colours, materials and textures, but also the ephemeral; the quality of light, and the relaxed holiday atmosphere.
Clearing away the poky rooms at the rear allowed us to work within the existing building footprint, preserving the amenity of the rear courtyard. It also gave us a liberated ground plane, a platform, where we experimented with programmatic configurations of space that took on the form of two pavilions. The new pavilion piggybacks the existing home, efficiently stacking living and sleeping spaces upon each other. Where it touches the ground the building is light and porous, the walls dissolving to embrace the courtyard. In contrast, the sleeping areas above are more solid and restful. Light entering the space is controlled through a band of timber windows and sliding shutters.
The spatially efficient square form of the addition makes the most of the tight block but generated deep plan which we liberated by cleaving the building in two. Set into the schism is a ribbon of glazing which swallows light into the centre of the home, pushing the upstairs bedrooms apart and programmatically defining the open plan spaces of the ground floor. The vivid, blue glass lining the void echoes the colours of the sea and captures glimpses of the fleeting sky above and the terracotta rooftops leading down to the beach.
A second, smaller pavilion was designed as a flexible studio space for our creative client. The studio assumes the footprint of the existing garden shed and climbs up toward the house. With the glazed sliding doors to the living area and the studio pulled right open, the spaces are united with the courtyard, creating a dialogue between the two pavilions.
In keeping with the relaxed atmosphere of the home, the material palette was selected to be low maintenance. The tiled exterior walls can easily be hosed down when salt gathers from the sea breeze. The texture and variation in these handmade glass mosaics catch shimmering light, like the surface of water. Timbers, oiled and raw, alongside galvanised steel and glass complete the simple, pared back palette. Stepping through the front gate, this Bondi home now feels distant from its neighbours. It feels beachy, like a holiday; light, breezy and easy to look after.Location: Australia Architect: Carter Williamson Architects