Simple and rectangular, OCM house sits tucked away from street view at the back of a grassy block. Bathed in the warmth and light of the Byron sun, it responds to the client’s brief of a comfortable home for a young family, with pleasing lines and modest materials on a tight budget. Nestled at the rear of a 500m2 site, the 97m2 house runs east to west across its contour, providing optimal north-facing orientation over the lawns and gardens. Wrapped in black FC sheet, vertical and horizontal timber battens cover the sheet joins to create a tectonic pattern that articulates the façade and defines the window locations. An extrusion carved into the northern face forms a sheltered outdoor terrace, revealing a new material and opening up the dwelling to catch the sun’s movements throughout the day. Lined in a warm timber cladding, it provides a gentle contrast to the black outer skin. Complemented with plywood-lined walls and polished concrete floors throughout the interior, the living space is calm and sunlit.
A simple spatial composition sees OCM house split cleanly down the middle, with bedrooms to one side and communal living areas to the other. The outdoor entertaining terrace flows smoothly into the main inner living space, allowing the house to remain open for much of the year- blurring the line between exterior and interior. A hallway leads us to the other half of the dwelling, where lie three bedrooms, a laundry and bathroom. A rigorous design process paved the way for a dwelling pure in form, economical in cost and true to its intentions. Through its geometry, minimal material palette and humble construction methods, OCM House embodies the power of simplicity.
The client runs a Mexican stall at a local food and produce market in Sydney, Australia. After inheriting a small piece of land in the Byron Shire when his father passed away, he wanted to build a home in the place where he grew up. The brief was to create a simple, comfortable home with pleasing lines and modest materials on a tight budget- a place where he could settle and raise a future family.
Fibre cement sheet was chosen for the primary external cladding due its lightweight nature, economy and ease of installation. In terms of raw natural materials, we always aim for locally produced. The predominant hardwood timber used for this home is Australian Blackbutt, grown on the north coast of NSW. The Hoop Pine plywood was grown and manufactured in nearby Queensland. These locally sourced materials helped to reduce the carbon miles whilst also grounding the home and giving it a sense of place.
While the building is modest in its final form, a creative and sophisticated approach was necessary to achieve the outcome within our heavily restricted budget. The planning was optimised to include only what was necessary to match the client’s needs. Decisions such as the building height, length and width were all dimensioned to suite a standard FC sheet, reducing unusable off-cuts and minimising waste.We were also constantly testing our ideas against a driving design principle: the celebration of the efficient. In a country where building costs are among the highest in the world, efficiency of construction can substantially reduce the cost of a build. We had to think carefully about how to construct this building to ensure that design intent remained strong while construction details and methods remained simple. This ensured that our ideas could be easily communicated and built on site in a timely manner.
Unique design elements:
Timber battens were a necessary requirement to protect the joints between the FC sheets. To add interest, a pattern was devised from the battens that in turn determined the size and locations of the window openings, creating a unique detail and articulating the façade.