This Chef’s Home in Australia Uses Budget-Friendly Materials That Don’t Sacrifice Strength
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This Chef’s Home in Australia Uses Budget-Friendly Materials That Don’t Sacrifice Strength

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By Lucy Wang
In Byron Shire, simple, cost-efficient materials like fiber-cement sheets cut down on construction waste and time.

When Tom, an Australian chef who co-owns a taqueria in Sydney, inherited a 5,400-square-foot plot of land in Byron Shire on the eastern coast where he’d grown up, he seized the opportunity to lay down roots and build a home for a future family.

Faced with a "heavily restricted" budget, Tom enlisted the help of his friend and designer Scott Jackson, of Studio Jackson Scott, to create a sustainably minded family home that embraces outdoor living.

Tucked away from street view, the OCM House runs east to west to optimize north-facing views of the lawn and garden. The home is designed to embrace the outdoors and is within walking distance of rivers and beautiful beaches.

"We were constantly testing our ideas against a driving design principle: the celebration of the efficient," explains Jackson of the project, titled OCM House. "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."

The outdoor terrace is furnished with Breeze chairs by Strand + Hvass.

Crafted with simplicity in mind, the compact, three-bedroom home features a bold facade that belies its modest, 1,044-square-foot size. The patterned facade was created from fiber-cement panels—chosen for their lightweight properties, low cost, and ease of installation—and timber battens fitted between panels to protect the joints. 

The position of the horizontal and vertical battens helped determine the size and locations of the window openings.

"Decisions such as the building height, length, and width were all dimensioned to suit a standard fiber-cement sheet, reducing unusable off-cuts and minimizing waste," adds Jackson.

"Sustainability is always a goal and has led to a framework that drives our thinking at every stage of the project," says Jackson. "One of the key elements in this particular project that allowed for a more sustainable home was a very simple idea: less is more."

The simple material palette continues inside, where unpainted plywood lines the walls and provides a gentle contrast to the black facade. 

The kitchen island was custom built on-site by Studio Jackson Scott using Australian Blackbutt.

Black ceramic tile wraps around the kitchen backsplash.

Unpainted plywood wraps all around the living areas to give the interior "a warmth and texture that interacts beautifully with the external Blackbutt timber," says Jackson. "It has a robust , durable, and tactile quality that sits well with the internal concrete floors."

For a seamless transition from indoors to out, large sliding pocket doors open to connect the open-plan living areas to a sheltered, north-facing terrace built from locally sourced Australian Blackbutt timber.

The simple material palette was driven by a restricted budget and a sustainable ethos. "We used these materials to create a ‘natural’ aesthetic that echoed the beauty of the Australian bush and beach that surrounds the house," says Jackson.

A hallway leads to three bedrooms with a shared full bathroom and a powder room/laundry room on the east side of the house.

As with the kitchen island bench and the cabinetry for the media unit, the bathroom vanity was custom designed by Studio Jackson Scott and built on-site using Australian Blackbutt.

"A rigorous design process paved the way for a dwelling pure in form, economical in cost, and true to its intentions," explains Jackson. "Through its geometry, minimal material palette, and humble construction methods, OCM House embodies the power of simplicity."

OCM House floor plan

OCM House north and west elevations

Related Reading: Ways to use Fiber-Cement Panels

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Studio Jackson Scott / @studiojacksonscott

Builder/ General Contractor: Haven Building - Chris Miller

Structural Engineer: Rob Aungle & Associates

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