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A Sensitively Built Coastal Garden, Designed To Look ‘Untouched’

Gardens

Oyster Catcher is a beautifully re-imagined beach house on New South Wales’ South Coast, where the serene waterfront landscape takes centre stage.

Beyond the incredible views, untamed gardens and calming courtyards by The Garden Social help draw the architectural escape into the grassy sand dunes of Callala Beach – as if the landscape had ‘never been touched’.

25th November, 2022

The spectacular Oyster Catcher beach house. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

The Garden Social ‘s landscape design perfectly frames the ocean views. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

‘The clients expressed an appreciation for cacti which was restrained to the internal courtyards,’ The Garden Social director Asher says. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

The tall forms of the Euphorbia Ingens stand like sculptures throughout the home, casting incredible shadows among the architecture. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

A serene courtyard. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

MCK Architects designed the home as a retreat for a Sydney family. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

It enjoys private beach access, that’s been carefully restored in the landscaping project. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

Photo – Prue Ruscoe

‘Many of the plant species selected are endemic to the site but not all,’ Asher says. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

‘A matrix of Spinifex Sericeus, Lagurus Ovatus, Scaevola Calendulacea and Atriplex Cineria were introduced to the fore-dune zone to stabilise the dune.’ Photo – Prue Ruscoe

Tait seat hidden into the sand dune is the perfectly private space to soak in the amazing views. Photo – Prue Ruscoe

Christina Karras
Friday 25th November 2022

‘The landscape had to look and feel like it always existed: that it melded perfectly into the natural surrounds’ – Asher Cole

Imagine a property overlooking the turquoise waters of Jervis Bay with private beach access, and you’ll end up with a dream home that might just come close to Oyster Catcher in New South Wales.

Designed by MCK Architects, the restrained Callala Beach house takes its cues from the coastal location, while also making room for The Garden Social’s serene landscape design.

‘We were designing for a professional Sydney-based couple and their young adult children,’ The Garden Social director Asher Cole says. It’s a haven where the family all comes together to unwind, immersed in the natural surrounds that have been carefully designed to look and feel untamed, ‘like it had never been touched’.

‘A large portion of the client’s property extends into the sand dunes,’ Asher adds. ‘Private beach access had been overrun by weeds and needed to be reinstated without damage to the dune and endemic plants.’

The landscape architect has worked on coastal gardens before, but says this was the first where they spent extensive time studying the local environment and history of the plants introduced to the dunes. Asher enlisted the help of South Coast Gardens – an ‘amazingly talented, local horticulturist’, Roger Stanton – who propagated some of the plants from nearby dunes in a matrix inspired by the natural patterns of existing low shrubs, small trees and grasses.

‘The architecture was so methodically designed to have minimal environmental impact. Our role was to stretch the natural landscape into the site to nestle the built form into what feels like the natural landscape,’ she explains.

Gardens weave inside and out of the home through multiple internal courtyards, complete with sculptural, towering cacti. They introduced a mix of native and complementary plants strong enough to endure the harsh environment of the waterfront position, from a beach grass called Spinifex Sericeus, Lagurus Ovatus (hare’s tail grass) Scaevola Calendulacea (dune fan-flowers) and Atriplex Cineria (grey saltbush). Other ‘iconic coastal plants’ such as the Acacia tree and coastal tea tree also helped anchor the home in its windswept setting.

Asher says the Tait concrete bench seat built into the sand dune has sunken into the landscape, creating an intimate space where the clients can enjoy the incredible views.

‘The tones in the native plant palette and the way they blend into the hardwood cladding of the architecture and view beyond get me every time,’ she adds. ‘It’s incredibly moody and iconically Australian.’

See more from The Garden Social here.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net