A carefully curated experience – Federal House by Edition Office
Edition Office has a fundamental philosophy of respect for the environment, with their work drawing heavily on elements of biophilic and reverential design. Located in Bundjalung country among the Byron hinterlands, Federal House echoes these influences, offering a layered connection to place.
The architects were briefed with creating a sanctuary to which the clients could escape the stress of professional life. Lead designers Kim Bridgland and Aaron Roberts brought together the expertise of builders SJ Reynolds Construction, engineers Westera Partners and Florian Wild’s landscape design team to produce a carefully considered experience. A testament to the truly spectacular result, the project was awarded Habitus House of the Year and also took out the 2021 House Awards New House Over 200m2 category.
The structure acts as a vehicle for a relationship between person and place, enabling a feeling of immersion in the landscape while maintaining a sense of sanctuary from the surroundings and the region’s variable weather conditions. With this came an emphasis on the use of natural materials and fostering sustained interactions with nature. Organic gestures dominate the façade comprised of thick timber battens, materiality which echoes the settler-colonial homestead typology predominant in the landscape but simultaneously provides contrast through its vertical segregation and jet-black hue. The interior’s simple palette of Blackbutt, Australian hardwood, black-pigmented concrete and powder-coated steel evokes a sense of calm and unity. The furniture selections’ earthy hues and soft, curved forms complement this beautifully.
A cantilevered northern flank, housing the kitchen and living area, evokes a feeling of suspension in the landscape. With sliding glass doors, the space can be opened completely or sealed from the elements. In contrast, the intimate, enclosed bedroom block along the eastern edge provides a place of withdrawal and rest.
The home encircles an internal fern-filled void, which provides a subtle glimpse of both the sky above and pool below. The cavernous, dimly lit lower level resembles a freshwater swimming hole, reflecting the horizon at its edge.
Glass louvres connect the atrium to the living and bedrooms, allowing rich earth and fern smells to permeate throughout the home. Guided by a firm focus on ensuring the house “would perform in its setting”, Bridgland has ensured this feature acts as a source of natural ventilation, with air drawn across the cool water circling upwards to create a fresh breeze in the living areas. The exterior’s timber battens filter the harsh summer sun, providing shade to the deep, outdoor veranda encasing three sides of the home. Angled to maximise the telescoping views of the hinterland’s rolling hills, this feature functions in unison with the living area to provide the clients with a graded connection to the natural environment.
Adding to the rich sensory experience, Oblica’s Ergofocus fireplace provides captivating, crackling flames – the appeal of wood fire unique and timeless. Its graceful, curved form and striking black steel tie in with the simple, elegant interior design of the home. Meanwhile, the fireplace’s formidable heating power offers warmth and comfort throughout the region’s colder months.
Much more than a classical Byron retreat, Federal House simultaneously encapsulates deep respect for the landscape and for the needs and desires of its inhabitants. An immersive experience of Federal’s luscious terrain, the home certainly has us wanting to escape the city.
Architect: Edition Office
Photographer: Benjamin Hosking
Builder: SJ Reynolds Constructions
Landscape: Florian Wild
Engineer: Westera Partners