Pine Springs was born out of our client’s desire for a contemporary take on the ‘modernist box’ he so keenly admired. A coincidental encounter at Palm Springs Modernism Week 2017, founded a fortuitous union of client and architect, bound by a shared interest and passion for mid-century design.
The brief for a new home in the Northern Rivers region was to provide a private escape, away from the hustle and bustle of Sydney where the client had spent his working life. His intentions were straightforward from the outset- creative planning that could achieve privacy and maximise views; a great room that could act as a gallery space for an expansive collection of mid-century wares, antiques and art; and an entertainer’s delight with expansive kitchen and outdoor pool pavilion.
The immediate context of East Ballina, or Ballifornia as it became fondly known, is a patchwork of fibro cottages perched on escarpments and masonry bungalows, with a sprinkling of hip and tile spec’ houses thrown in.
The elevated site captures ocean views from the street front to the south-east, and looks north-west into a BAL rated tree canopy at the rear. With 8m of fall across the block, key challenges became achieving privacy from overlooking, and balancing the desired ‘floating box’ aesthetic with height plane restrictions and overshadowing.
A critical driver of the external aesthetic was the client’s desire for a ‘low maintenance’ exterior. Given the challenging nature of future access, we sought after a ‘no paint’ solution, allowing the client to spend more time on his other passion- gardening.
The end result has been the product of a successful and talented team. The first floor suspended concrete slab appears to float effortlessly on slender angled steel columns, and core-filled stack bond porcelain concrete blocks. A well-prepared and executed pour saw innovation from the builder in sparing these blocks from wearing any concrete slurry. The same care and skill had to be exercised with the pre-finished first floor cladding- white FC sheet.
The crisp white exterior gives way to a kaleidoscope of colour and wonder internally. The home provides a backdrop for the client’s eclectic collection of items gathered from travels near and far. Extraordinary collaboration with the joiners saw the successful execution of the clients wishes for a Mondrian inspired art wall, concealing a guest wardrobe, which can be appreciated from the pool pavilion.
Beneath the razzle-dazzle, mechanics of the home include a PV array and inverter, with the capacity to hook up batteries in the near future, provision for future electric car charging, solar pool heating, and a 22,500L tank. The project incorporates passive design principles, capturing ocean breezes that filter through the house, and is oriented to maximise the northern aspect while balancing acute privacy concerns.
Pine Avenue house is neither Palm Springs nor Ballina. It draws upon the client’s aspirations and unique location, to create a home that is both a canvas for the owner’s personality, and is itself a pragmatic expression of his ode to mid-century design.
Photographer: Toby Scott
Builder: Belcon Constructions
Structural: Phil Wallace