In keeping with Edition Office’s philosophy of respecting the environment, Federal House on Bundjalung Country is a sensitive architectural reflection— described as ‘recessive; a shadow within the vast landscape’.

Edition Office were asked to design a ‘home-as-sanctuary’ in the Byron Hinterland, with intimate proximity to the topography, including panoramic views across the horizon. Though a stark contrast to the luscious terrain, Federal House doesn’t compete; instead, Edition Office engages a deliberation.

“Within the folding hills of its hinterland site, the home acts as both experiential container for this place and as a conditioning object,” Edition Office principal Kim Bridgland says. “[Federal House is] consciously aware of its outsider status within the traditional ownership and legacy of this landscape.”

The Federal House resists the formal qualifications of classic rural architecture, moving away from the “settler-colonial homestead typology” and “verandah DNA”. Instead, the exterior of the dramatic home is formed of sharp, dark lines in thick timber battens, giving way into sharp relief, “purposefully foreign to its Bundjalung country landscape.”

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Inside, Edition Office designed a modest floorplan with open living, kitchen, and dining connecting to the environment, vast voids centring the architecture in the landscape while offering respite from the torrential rains and sub-tropical heat.

Throughout interiors, the architects called on the exterior’s black palette with a range of materials—timber, concrete, and tiles— that also offer tactile qualities, minimal maintenance, and longevity. In addition, organic hued blackbutt timber offers lighter touches in the living spaces and three bedrooms.

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Black granite tiles juxtapose the green views in the bathroom, with an Agape Normal bath becoming the perfect spot to watch the storms roll through.

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Edition Office designed a subterranean internal pool in all-black concrete, which resembles ‘more closely a freshwater swimming hole than a classic lap pool’.

Continuing Edition Office’s sustainable commitment, rainwater is harvested in a 60,000L tank, and the impressive building utilises an aerated wastewater treatment system plus infrastructure to employ a PV solar array. The pool and open verandahs offer natural ventilation, creating cool breezes throughout the dark home – ceiling fans are mostly left untouched, even in the sub-tropical climate. The addition of the deep 200mm battened screen on the western terrace shields from the intense western sun.

Federal House is far more than the classic Byron retreat. Instead, it’s a case study in residential architecture with an inherent understanding and respect for the rural landscape.

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