Text by Annie Price
Broken Head Studio, by Harley Graham Architects, is located behind the sand dune near the headland at Broken Head, NSW, Australia.
The midcentury inspired form sits amongst literal rainforest and coastal heath. It’s a simple, but very cleverly designed, one bedroom house positioned just above the ground on a deck that opens straight up to the bush and the soothing sounds of the nearby surf.
Broken Head is just south of Byron Bay. It’s a highly desirable spot, renowned for being a place of reflection, relaxation and the quintessential Aussie beach lifestyle. Harley Graham’s client wanted his own piece of this paradise – a retreat in the forest that he could use as weekender to surf, read books and escape the daily grind.
In their initial meetings, they talked about a simple platform on the grass verge in the forest. The brief was clean lines and natural materials.
The dark exterior colours help the studio to recede further into the lush green surrounds, blending in rather than standing out. Large sliding glass panels stack back to open up the living space for absolute indoor and outdoor living in a climate that suits that ethos.
Environmentally, the studio is pretty low impact. It’s about small spaces opening up to nature and creating something that is just enough for a couple to have long or short stays.
It relies on natural ventilation via a mix of louvered windows and large sliding doors and has a 5KW solar system with batteries and a water tank.
Broken Head Studio was built for a very reasonable AU$175,000, or about AU$2300/m2. An excellent price for a new build with such high-end detailing.
A lot of clever decisions during the process were made in order to save money. For example, the same fibre cement cladding was used inside and outside the home. And by using larger timber reveals on windows and doors, they avoided needing to use architraves and square set ceilings.
The timber choice was very important in the finished project, for both practical and aesthetic reasons. Blackbutt was used for the flooring, weathered ironbark for the decking and plywood for the joinery to add warmth and depth.
Spotted Gum timber doors and windows also add welcome colour and texture to the Studio.
This house may be relatively small by today’s ‘new build’ standards but it’s big on clever, intuitive thinking and its gentle restraint harks back to the midcentury ethos of ‘less is more’.
It’s a modern and stylish take on the wonderful simplicity of the 1960’s classic Aussie fibro beach shacks. Harley Graham’s thoughtful, non-excessive use of natural materials pairs well with the laid-back lifestyle of this increasingly desirable Australian coastal area.