Before it was an incredible floating house by DFJ Architects, this 20 acre site in the Byron hinterland was formerly a disused pig and banana farm. But now, not a skerrick of that former life remains!
With the incredible rolling views front and centre of the design conversation, the main part of the new house is centred on a cantilevered concrete plinth which tapers off at the edge, allowing the elegant structure to ‘float’ over the landscape.
The finished project is shaped like a square doughnut, with all four perpendicular sections wrapped around a central courtyard. Visitors are guided through a concrete tunnel to a large gate at the entrance, made from brass mesh by local steel fabricator, Neil Mathie (Neil is also responsible for the intricately concertinaed brass cladding on the wall beside the gate!).
Through this gate lies the courtyard, at the heart of the house. Each wing of the residence encircles the courtyard. Immediately adjacent to the entrance is the main bedroom and ensuite, which sits at the northwest corner of the house. Next to it lies the living, dining and sitting room, which all offer views of the landscape through the north-facing floor-to-ceiling windows. The kitchen and adjoining outdoor area lie to the east with two additional bedrooms tucked behind.
‘The clients wanted a house that primarily functioned as a house for two,’ explains director, Dominic Finlay-Jones. As a result, the low-maintenance house sits all on one level, and the final layout includes three bedrooms plus a study, but the main suite is the only one incorporated into the main house. The guest suites are housed in their own wing beside the pool, and can be independently ‘activated as needed’.
With glass stretching the length of the northern side of the house, a limited palette of raw materials were selected to complement the vast natural views. Local blackbutt, brass and concrete form the rest of the minimal scheme, with pops of colourful terrazzo punctuating the surfaces in the kitchen and bathroom. These materials will patina over time and allow the house to settle into the landscape.
Considerate integration of green areas will also encourage the architectural design to sink subtly into its surrounds. ‘As well as extensive landscaping, large-scale bush regeneration was undertaken as part of the project, to repair the degraded land, healing the view back towards the escarpment where the house will eventually nestle amongst a canopy of vegetation,’ says Dominic. This landscape work was undertaken by Fig Landscapes.
In a few years, the materials will have weathered, the garden will have ground up around the house, and the glass will deflect the natural scenery back to a viewer’s eye. It will be like the house has always been there, or was never there at all.
The Coolamon House is shortlisted in the 2021 Houses Awards. See more projects from DFJ Architects here.