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December 6, 2010

Having admired a project by Shane Blue of Bourne + Blue Architecture in Newcastle, New South Wales, Australia, James and Sue O’Sullivan asked the architect to help them create a beachside family compound in Diamond Beach, about a two-hour drive from their main house. Completed this year, the resulting structure, which comprises four main components wrapped around a central courtyard, easily accommodates the couple and their five children, ranging in age from 23 to 16, as well as extended family and friends. To keep maintenance costs down and to reduce the sizeable home’s carbon footprint, Blue used composite plywood and plantation pine throughout, as well as low-VOC paint, low-e glazing and LED lighting. He installed photovoltaic panels, a hot-water recirculating pump and two large corrugated steel bins that store 5,000 gallons of rainwater just outside the building. When the O’Sullivans aren’t using the house, which was completed in spring, they allow it to be used as a vacation rental.

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At a house in New South Wales, Australia, by Shane Blue of Bourne + Blue Architecture, a huge sliding door greets visitors and keeps things out of the way. Photo by Simon Whitbread. 

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The entrance door slides shut to protect the house from sand and wind—it is located just beyond the large sand dunes at Diamond Beach. Bedrooms and bunkrooms flank the entrance.
The entrance door slides shut to protect the house from sand and wind—it is located just beyond the large sand dunes at Diamond Beach. Bedrooms and bunkrooms flank the entrance.
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The layout.
The layout.
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All rooms are accessible through the interior courtyard, which is raised several feet off the ground. Large sliders open to the living and dining areas; at right is one of two private hammock decks.
All rooms are accessible through the interior courtyard, which is raised several feet off the ground. Large sliders open to the living and dining areas; at right is one of two private hammock decks.
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The same view with the exterior shutters closed. “The informality and openness of the building means that you can transition from the beach to a hammock with little fuss and without seeing another soul,” says James O’Sullivan.
The same view with the exterior shutters closed. “The informality and openness of the building means that you can transition from the beach to a hammock with little fuss and without seeing another soul,” says James O’Sullivan.
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A sliding screen shelters the barbecue deck while still allowing light in.
A sliding screen shelters the barbecue deck while still allowing light in.
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Taking a cue from camper pop-outs, Blue extended a portion of the living room seat outward. “The one variation to the architectural pattern is the living room bay window, which pops out of the main wall line to create a sunny seat,” he says.
Taking a cue from camper pop-outs, Blue extended a portion of the living room seat outward. “The one variation to the architectural pattern is the living room bay window, which pops out of the main wall line to create a sunny seat,” he says.
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“At night the house comes alive, with shadows from the garden and screens creating interesting images and an eerie sensation of nature coming into the building,” says O’Sullivan. The room beyond is the kids’ bunkroom and TV/hangout area; the small door le
“At night the house comes alive, with shadows from the garden and screens creating interesting images and an eerie sensation of nature coming into the building,” says O’Sullivan. The room beyond is the kids’ bunkroom and TV/hangout area; the small door leads to surfboard storage. At right is one of the hammock decks.
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“The house has a very particular atmosphere, as it looks in on itself to the courtyard,” says O’Sullivan.
“The house has a very particular atmosphere, as it looks in on itself to the courtyard,” says O’Sullivan.
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The open kitchen and dining area.
The open kitchen and dining area.
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The room extends into the main living area, illuminated by energy-saving LED lighting. At right is the “popout” bay window, filled with banquette seating.
The room extends into the main living area, illuminated by energy-saving LED lighting. At right is the “popout” bay window, filled with banquette seating.
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11 / 19

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The pitched-roof main living area, with generous banquette seating continuing around the perimeter. “My 23-year-old daughter has taken groups of university friends up for relaxing weekends,” says O’Sullivan. “And during school holidays I took my son Henry
The pitched-roof main living area, with generous banquette seating continuing around the perimeter. “My 23-year-old daughter has taken groups of university friends up for relaxing weekends,” says O’Sullivan. “And during school holidays I took my son Henry and five of his 16-year-old friends for a week of surfing, fishing, card games and mischief.”
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12 / 19

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One of two identical parents’ bedrooms, each located in two corners of the house. “Sue and I have on occasion spent some quiet weekends alone in the house doing odd jobs,” notes O’Sullivan.
One of two identical parents’ bedrooms, each located in two corners of the house. “Sue and I have on occasion spent some quiet weekends alone in the house doing odd jobs,” notes O’Sullivan.
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13 / 19

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The architect continued the open-plan feeling into one of two full baths (there is another half bath); on the other side of the shower wall is the courtyard’s outdoor shower.
The architect continued the open-plan feeling into one of two full baths (there is another half bath); on the other side of the shower wall is the courtyard’s outdoor shower.
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The two corrugated-steel water cisterns create their own architectural gesture and, because they are capable of holding a total of 5,000 gallons of water, could prove useful in the bushfire-prone area. Blue points out that the building had to be designed
The two corrugated-steel water cisterns create their own architectural gesture and, because they are capable of holding a total of 5,000 gallons of water, could prove useful in the bushfire-prone area. Blue points out that the building had to be designed to bushfire standards, which excludes certain materials and requires a large clearance around the structure. The sliding screen shields one of the hammock decks.
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An evening view of the southwest elevation, which shows one of the parents’ corner bedrooms, a hammock deck and the extended barbecue deck. The two small windows at right are part of the large kids’ bunkroom.
An evening view of the southwest elevation, which shows one of the parents’ corner bedrooms, a hammock deck and the extended barbecue deck. The two small windows at right are part of the large kids’ bunkroom.
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The steel screens, with tiny circular perforations, enhance privacy and help protect the house against the elements during periods when not in use.
The steel screens, with tiny circular perforations, enhance privacy and help protect the house against the elements during periods when not in use.
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“A monopitch roof wraps around the courtyard, simplifying roof drainage and providing unity,” says Blue.
“A monopitch roof wraps around the courtyard, simplifying roof drainage and providing unity,” says Blue.
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The house is just beyond the dunes at Diamond Beach, yet could not be built up to capture an ocean view, prompting Blue to shift the focus to interior views and privacy. Near the house is a corral with the family’s horses, which they sometimes ride to the
The house is just beyond the dunes at Diamond Beach, yet could not be built up to capture an ocean view, prompting Blue to shift the focus to interior views and privacy. Near the house is a corral with the family’s horses, which they sometimes ride to the beach.
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DIAMOND BEACH 101

At a house in New South Wales, Australia, by Shane Blue of Bourne + Blue Architecture, a huge sliding door greets visitors and keeps things out of the way. Photo by Simon Whitbread. 

Image courtesy of Copyright Simon Whitbread.

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