Bonny Bronte

May 23, 2024

Architects: Michael Cumming Architects + Edward Birch
Builder: AJP Construction
Location: Bronte NSW

The Bonny Bronte beach house, designed by Michael Cumming Architect in collaboration with Edward Birch, prioritises environmental consciousness and seamless indoor-outdoor connection. Partridge played a key role in translating this vision into a structurally feasible and functional reality.

The architects aimed to maximise natural light and airflow while maintaining the relaxed aesthetic of a beach house, favouring the use of classic coastal materials such as weatherboard cladding and sandstone. Our team worked closely with the architects in designing a structural system that accommodates a central double-height void, which required careful engineering to ensure stability and incorporate the sculptural steel staircase, all while enabling natural light penetration deep into the residence. The architectural design also incorporates passive cooling strategies by harnessing sea breezes for natural ventilation with windows on the south-east façade to facilitate efficient airflow through the double-height void and remove hot air.

The exposed structural trusses and steel staircase are both design statements and functional components. Partridge played a vital role in designing these elements to meet structural requirements for strength and stability, while also considering their aesthetic integration within the overall design.

A key challenge for the project was the construction of a new basement on a loose sand site requiring 3 metres of excavation. To limit disturbance to neighbouring properties and existing retaining walls, temporary shoring was required. Partridge designed a contiguous pile shoring system, incorporating temporary steel bracing struts. This solution was necessary due to the limited space between the house and the boundary.

Partridge also designed exposed structural glulam trusses with custom laser cut connection plates, adding a unique visual element. The steel staircase was modelled using finite element analysis to optimise the steel plate design and help design connections into the surrounding structure. The staircase envelope is open on three sides, so the two-storey spiral stair was supported by a single steel post and the stair landings. A key design challenge was resolving the resulting lateral loading at each stair landing level, in particular the top stair landing which only consisted of a lightweight bridge structure spanning the double height void.

By providing structural solutions that accommodated the architects’ vision for natural light, airflow, and material choices, our engineers at Partridge helped ensure the successful realisation of the Bonny Bronte beach house.

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