gunyah, bundeena, new south wales

When I sat on the verandah of the original cottage, the wind messing with the palms regimentally planted along the back of the beach and the lazy waves lapping on the shoreline 10 metres away I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to change a thing. It was a kind of copybook beach shack utopia. Well, I thought that for a few minutes and then you stay the night, and as the wind picks up and the swell increases you wonder if you’ll survive the night.

So we designed a new home to survive the tempestuous east Australian coastline. We sat the house dangerously close to the high tide mark but only because the site was bisected by a dramatic rock face. It just didn’t feel right to sit the house so close to such a beautiful thing. In sitting the house on the lower part of the site we preserved the view for all time from the RSL dining room that loomed large behind us. It also sheltered us from the rattle of ‘pokie machines’ and the general Saturday night raffle antics.

I think due to the obvious attempt the house makes to blend into it’s natural context the community of Bundeena have embraced this house. Architects are often caught in a bewildering relentless pursuit of planning approval for the simplest of ideas. In this case Sutherland Shire were a dream to deal with. The planner ‘got’ what we were doing and supported it. Sounds simple enough but it can never be taken for granted and for this I’ll be eternally grateful.