Immersive and Respectful – Bilgola Beach House by Olson Kundig
Inserted as a series of volumes that embrace the surrounding context, Bilgola Beach House respectfully navigates the lush natural landscape. Olson Kundig applies an attuned and detailed approach to propose a uniquely immersive residential experience.
Overlooking the northern coast of Sydney, Bilgola Beach House sits openly embracing its milieu through consistent visual reminders of place. Approached through a dense and natural landscape, the remote home appears and presents itself in the distance, darkened intentionally to sit as a subdued and passively considered element amongst the landscape. Over its dual levels, the home is formed by a regular and controlled series of forms and clean lines, with the focus clearly on the visual connection between inside and the surrounds. In Olson Kundig’s first engagement within Australia, a robust, masculine approach is combined with a respectful understanding of rural architectural typologies to propose an idyllic formation amongst the dunes.
Sitting in contrast to the soft and wispy coastal grasses, the bold rectilinear form feels anchored in place, as a refuge of sorts from the elements. Built by Bellevarde Constructions and with landscape design by CAB Consulting, Bilgola Beach House reveals its location and views from the entry onwards. Each resulting space connects in some way to the landscape, with an operable façade that allows the sea breezes inward and an ease of access beyond the built casing. Dark coloured mullions and window coverings help to frame the views as animated landscapes without distracting.
Drawing inspiration from the site itself, the tonality of the concrete used is inspired by the colours found in the local sands and grasses, embedding the materiality in place. While the form offers both a lightness in the metal cladding and generous use of glass, the masonry elements offer a welcomed sense of balance. Protected and recessive, the structure is intended to withstand the incoming winds and coastal conditions, potential flooding and incoming solar gain. A deliberate warmth is shared through the finishes and their arrangement, connecting the home to the natural, which is then reinforced by the central courtyard space bringing the elements in, while shielded by the direct effects of the coast.
Olson Kundig’s Bilgola Beach House arranges varying levels of transparency within its controlled overall form, connecting internally and between the built and the natural, with materiality intended to evolve over time.