Northern Rivers Beach House
From Tiffany Jow
Raised on a plinth to avoid flooding, a house by the sea in Australia cleverly interprets space and materials.
Located in Byron Bay, Australia, the Northern Rivers Beach House is chock-full of ingenious solutions to a difficult brief. Challenged to re-interpret the traditional beach shack on a limited budget, architects Erhard Rathmayr and Monika Obrist of Brisbane firm refresh*design developed the building around flood restrictions that prohibit all habitable floors from being less than six and a half feet above ground. The law led them to create a cantilevered living space raised on a plinth, where both ends overhang and counterbalance one another. Made of steel, the soaring bridge-like structure contains an open-plan kitchen, dining, and living area on one side, with bedrooms and bathrooms on the other. Storage, parking, and laundry is housed down below. Sustainable materials like bamboo, plywood, and plantation timber add warmth to the living areas, while each room’s cross-ventilation system, facilitated by openings in the home’s facade, take advantage of the cool sea breeze.