Bilgola Beach House by Olson Kundig

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    Award-winning US design firm Olson Kundig makes its mark on Australia for the first time on New South Wales’ Bilgola Beach. A 9,400 square-foot family home seemingly sits on the edge of the world, observing the meeting places between sand, sea and the flora at its fringes.

    Bilgola Beach House is a transformative structure, so close to the civilised world and yet unlike anything found in the nearby metropolis. Olson Kundig design principal Tom Kundig achieves a dialogue between the house and the environment, connecting people with place through sustainable design.

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    Designed to withstand harsh sunlight, high winds and flooding common to the Australian coast, Tom says, “my hope is that the home will evolve as it responds to all the different environmental and climatic conditions of the site, blending into the headlands and becoming integrated with Bilgola Beach over time.”

    The home is divided into transparent and opaque zones. The central floor houses public and entertaining spaces walled in between solid volumes of board-formed concrete. An interior courtyard invites filtered daylight into the home’s core, and passive ventilation passes horizontally through the windows, allowing the environment to influence the building without relying on excessive resources. Above and below, private spaces create a retreat from and gateway into the unknown beyond its borders.

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    Natural light passes through shaded, retractable window walls; a fortress from the outside when lowered, a faucet for daylight from within.

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    “My hope is that the home will evolve as it responds to all the different environmental and climatic conditions of the site, blending into the headlands and becoming integrated with Bilgola Beach over time.”

     

    – Olson Kundig principal Tom Kundig

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    Tom Kundig is widely known for his discreet mechanical systems; reflected in the fireplace design with a pull mechanism resembling a bike’s chain and crank.

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    A stone Apaiser Haven bath on one side of a balcony overlooking the beach and ocean.

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    The world cannot be taken for granted from this vantage point; Olson Kundig have continued its signature bridging of nature, culture and people with a structure of unforgettable beauty and motion. Tom himself brings worldly knowledge to the site on Sydney’s Northern Beaches; the home opens and closes at will, never isolating, never overwhelming, with a second-floor master suite designed to accommodate the couple that lives there.

    With company, it’s a sublime meeting place and opened up, it becomes an observatory for its ethereal landscape. Nestled among the dunes, surrounded by Norfolk pines and palm trees, as if it had been there all along, Bilgola Beach House is an artistic integration of human design into untamed land. It becomes a coming together; of people and the planet, of art and nature.

    This piece originally appeared in est Magazine issue #42.

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