The traits of an architectural site can either play into the hands of an architect, or work to their detriment. For Australian firm THOSE Architects, the site is where the creative spark is lit, and carves out a path for the design to follow. ‘Our work is unequivocally influenced by its locality,’ says co-founders Ben Mitchell and Simon Addinall, who met while studying architecture at the University of Sydney.
Six years after graduating and working in smaller firms, the pair reconnected to lay the foundations for their own practice. In 2013 they opened up shop in Sydney taking on mainly residential and commercial projects. Three years later they expanded to the coastal town of Byron Bay to the north.
Byron Bay plays host to a case in point of the firm’s passion for site-sensitive design. In 2018, THOSE was selected to renovate House Burch, a beachside bungalow in Suffolk Park dating back to the 1980s. Whilst a perfect seaside retreat during the Australian summer, the home had nothing to give during the winter, when its covetable outdoor spaces were rendered unusable.
‘Being invited to design someone’s place of residence is an honour. We take the responsibility very seriously’ – THOSE
When brought in to renovate the property, the firm first closed up partitions of the original building to insert a brand new two-storey volume. It then whitewashed brick walls and produced an earthy interior palette, forming a Modernist-inspired vernacular complementing the exterior spaces. Finally, they created a series of new courtyards in the garden, now linked to every room by a flowing interior breezeway connecting the two volumes.
Through excellent communication with the client, the home now overcomes the subtropical climatic paradigm, looking and functioning all the better for it. ‘Being invited to design someone’s place of residence is actually an honour, so we take the responsibility very seriously.’ §