Sydney Architecture Images- Contemporary Non-Commercial

Wave Rider House


Tony Owen NDM


Bondi Beach, Sydney, New South Wales




Millennium Minimalist Modernism


steel frame



On the crest of a wave

The centrepiece of the living-kitchen area is the polished concrete workbench.
Photo: Brett Boardman

Anne Susskind August 24, 2006 Copyright SMH

Live life to the max at home.

Life in the Wave House should be like living in a boutique or surf shop, and dining there like being in a restaurant or a cafe, says its architect, Tony Owen.

The house, one street back from Bondi Beach, is very slick, with lots of glass and Perspex, white, clean lines, built-in joinery, polished concrete floors, contemporary art, hip light fittings and finishes.

Although there's an outdoor shower for coming off the beach and the swish of its roof from the street is "a nod" to the sea, its ethos is not that of a conventional beach house.

Rather, Owen and his clients, a young couple with three children, chose to emulate the "sense of style that is increasingly a part of Bondi".

Owen says: "What do you enjoy about life? The luxury of dining in a restaurant, buying a frock in a boutique, going to a resort. So why shouldn't your [home] be like that as well?

"The wave, which dictates the shape of the ceilings and roof, is in the shape of the fit-out of the Billabong shop. It's like a surfboard. You get these trendy surfer shops and cafes and boutiques; they are sinuous, clean, retail-type spaces, so wouldn't it be great if your house was like a really cool shop?"

Like many contemporary houses on small blocks, the north-facing rear of the house has become its focus, while the street frontage is mostly taken up by the double garage.

That's not to say it doesn't look good from the street. The roller garage door, made of a transparent lightweight plastic polypropylene, is divided by an aluminium frame into panels, creating a skeleton that is see-through at night, instead of the usual oppressive heavy materials of which roller doors are made.

The wave forms an entry wing over the garage and front door, which is reached via a side pathway. The front door, set back from the street, leads to the main room, where the swell of the wave gives greater height to a large combined kitchen-dining-living area leading out to the garden.

The centrepiece of the area is a built-in, cantilevered polished concrete workbench in the shape of a moulded seven. High windows run the length of one wall, while a low, glassed wall on the other side looks out on an elegant reed pool. Despite plenty of glass, the neighbouring houses are not visible on either side, a feat in built-up Bondi.

Slide-away glass doors lead to a paved terrace and neat lawned garden, with the curve of the wave continuing outside in the overhang of the eave. The living room walls continue outside, too, with one wall seemingly hanging from the eave. The other wall juts out, creating an asymmetric space, but still allowing for a sense of enclosure for the indoor-outdoor space.

The house's lower level is built with solid brick and masonry to anchor the building, says Owen, while the upstairs is clad in a lightweight metal panel. Upstairs, the glass is translucent, to create a diffuse light, as opposed to downstairs, where clarity is sought.

Glass is everywhere in the house; in the frameless curving stair balustrades and throughout the interiors. This is not surprising as the client owns an architectural glass supply business and intends to use his home as a showpiece. Despite all the glass, the home is warm in winter. One of the client's favourite features is the underfloor heating, which makes it possible for his children to roll around and have fun downstairs on the concrete floor.

The architect's favourite room is one of the children's rooms, a small curved space on the landing.

It is here, he says, that all of the geometries of the house come together in the downward curve of the roof and the outside glass wall.

The main room upstairs is the parents' suite, with a balcony and pebble terrace facing the garden to the north. It is, Owen says, a private place where you can be away from everything. The suite has its own sound system, minibar and an open glassed bathroom with a free-standing bath. The shower and toilet are concealed behind a sliding translucent glass wall.

There are two children's rooms upstairs, looking out to the street.

Owen says the house had a surprisingly low budget because most of the fittings were imported, carefully sourced from international markets.

It also helped that the client was an owner-builder who made sure it met the budget. The time-frame was tight, too, because the family was renting and had to be out by a certain time.

Owen, 39, who returned to Sydney from New York in 1995, says his work is a mix of New York leading-edge design, sound commercial practices and local know-how. His design expertise, he says, comes from his days studying at Columbia University and working in the US for stellar architects such as Steven Holl and Bernard Tschumi, while his hands-on skills are garnered from his days working at Sydney firms for architects such as Philip Cox and Andrew Andersons of Peddle Thorp & Walker.

His experience has made working with councils an easier business. The wave motif, in sweeping upwards from the street to the back, creates less height on the street, which helped gain municipal approval.

The house also has the advantage of being in an eclectic street with a mix of contemporary houses and old-style bungalows. This made it difficult to find a common character to fit into, but meant it was less prescriptive in terms of council requirements.

To create a stylish beach home that matches Bondi's lifestyle.

Design and approval, 13 months. Construction, eight months.

* The cantilevered concrete island bench.

* The minibar in the master bedroom.

* The height in the combined living area.

* The overall look and style of the house.

* Water retention and recycling tanks below the slab in the garage.

* Maximises natural light and ventilation.

Treat a small home like a large development; do the work to get a hassle-free approval.

Tony Owen NDM, 9571 1700

Claddah Constructions, 0412 722 292

Pearl Todd Interior Design, 0410 470 107,

NB Consulting, 9984 7000,

A Glass Apart, 0418 286 931,
Wave House Bondi Beach
Beach House for sale in Australia

The Wave House is a contemporary four-bedroom family home located one block in from Sydney’s Bondi Beach. It’s iconic form of fluid white lines and minimalist detailing epitomises the latest wave of hi-end housing development in the area. The ambition behind the house is a desire to meld the notion of a traditional ‘beach house’ with the style conscious city-slick of cosmopolitan Bondi.

The house was designed by Tony Owen of Tony Owen NDM with interior design by Pearl Todd Interior Design.
Bondi is one of Sydney’s primary cultural melting pots. A collection of people from all walks of life, hi-profile lawyers and film-makers to transient British backpackers, call Bondi home. This diversity carries on into the eclectic built fabric that sustains the place. The wave house is located on a classic Bondi street characterised by a broad mix of building types; rich with blocks of six-pack flats, and peppered with both federation bungalows and modern new homes.

The client’s brief for this particular project requested a new house for their family of five that found a balance between L.A. party-pad and Balinese beach house - simple enough. However a sub-clause requirement of the client, to “capture the local spirit of Bondi”, presented more of a challenge. With the client’s family business supplying ‘designer’ glass products, a clear bias towards the incorporation of glass into the project added another dimension to the brief.

It comes as no surprise that glass is used extensively and plays a major role in the overall stylistic expression of the house. From frosted glass picture windows, full-width bi-folds and translucent acid etched toilet doors, to mirrored kitchen splashbacks and frameless glass balustrades, this house has it all. The architects experience with larger commercial projects is also apparent in the house. Flush detailing and hi-end lighting add to the equation delivering a home that, according to the architect, “should feel more Bondi boutique than traditional house”.

Spatially the house plays a game of compression and expansion both in plan and section. The volume between floor and ceiling is manipulated on both stories as the house morphs from front to rear. Spaces are low and wide towards the street narrowing and rising towards the north and the rear garden. Primary functions of living and master bedroom celebrate pole position in the sun whilst secondary rooms are located at the more compressed southern end of the house.

A low lying cantilevered roof plane hovers over the garage and entry ramp, drawing the visitor beneath its shelter and into the house. This plane continues inside as the ceiling over entry, laundry, powder room, home-office and playroom. At the main living volume the low ceiling lifts in a fluid waveform, flowing over the kitchen, lounge and dining and out into the garden. Here the space is expanded to a generous one-and-a-half height volume, giving an overwhelming sense of arrival upon entry.

Clever planning at ground level maximises the wow-factor, delivering the visitor centred on axis with the main space and courtyard garden. Occupation of this volume is clarified by relegating messy home-office and kids playroom functions to enclosed rooms adjacent to the arrival corridor. The kitchen sits tucked behind a sculpted concrete island bench whose dramatic cantilevered curve resonates with the ceiling line above.

Controlled glazing configurations crop and obscure neighbouring buildings out of the view, instead focusing the outlook on designed garden elements; coastal planting, reflection ponds, and a combined seating and barbeque unit, again in off-form concrete. The quality and play of natural light on walls, floor and folded ceiling is remarkable. When bi-fold doors open up the main living space the garden enters the room.

An open tread stair drops into the living space, hinged on the geometry of the ceiling. Whilst ascending this stair the overlapping folds of the ground and first floors are revealed. The curved detail of the plasterboard ceiling is transcribed to the frameless glass handrail, synergising the two contrasting materials and ensuring the passage from downstairs to up is smooth. The architect spent some time resolving the composition here, and it shows.

At the first landing are three neat bedrooms and a family bathroom. The eastern wall snakes back from the boundary at this level, allowing what would otherwise be a plan-locked baby’s bedroom to gain valuable north facing glazing. In this room the curved shifts of the house meld, inscribing a line between ceiling and wall that follows two different curves, one in plan, one in section. In effect this room contains the ‘DNA’ for the whole house.

A half-flight of stairs makes the final ascent to a palatial main bedroom suite. The feeling here is more one of slick hotel than suburban beach house. Reflective surfaces abound and add to the illusion of space. A free-standing bath forms a centrepiece to the open planned en-suite. Glass details at this level include a wall of mirrored cupboards and a quirky push-me-pull-you frameless, acid-etched glass door that slides to conceal either the toilet or shower. A wet-bar completes the scene ensuring ice-cold bubbly is only ever an arms reach away.

Externally, the lower level wall finishes are rendered and painted stark-white, contrasted with metal cladding panels above. Accentuating the sinuous transitions of the internal volumes, glazing is generally frameless and flush. Stone is used sparingly, appearing in the entry path and reappearing in the wet areas. Otherwise, floors are polished concrete downstairs and rich chocolate carpet upstairs.

In an eclectic street, the wave house acknowledges its context by proudly doing its own thing. It successfully marks and exceeds the functional needs and aspirations of the client. Tony Owen NDM have taken a clear idea and convincingly carried it through both design and construction phases to deliver what might just be ‘wave of the day’ for Bondi.