Lifted into the canopy of a lush rainforest, this guest retreat offers spectacular views while paying homage to Australia’s architectural heritage. Retired journalists and homeowners Colleen Ryan and Stephen Wyatt tapped architect Harley Graham and his Byron Bay-based design practice to realize the Hidden Studio, a breezy one-bedroom addition that complements the property’s two existing buildings — the main home and writer’s cabin — both designed by the late “Sydney School” architect Vale Ian McKay. Sustainability was also a key driver in the design of the raised glass cabin, which has no air conditioning and relies solely on natural ventilation.
Located on a 20-acre property in Coopers Shoot Bryon Bay, the Hidden Studio offers sweeping views of the hinterland and Pacific Ocean beyond. Measuring nearly 540 square feet in size, the compact dwelling was conceived as a private refuge, concealed from view and “akin to a raised cave or rock shelf, eaten out by waves.” Built with floor-to-ceiling glass and weathered steel, the cabin boasts a low-maintenance exterior that can be easily washed down when needed. Recycled water is used throughout the building.
Inside, the guest suite consists of a spacious bedroom on the east end, as well as a bathroom and an open-plan living area, kitchen and dining room that opens up to an outdoor sheltered terrace. The interior is almost entirely clad in blackbutt hardwood save for the ceiling and bathroom floor. The timber helps give the glass cabin a sense of warmth and balances out the tough exterior.
In keeping with the client’s request for an environmentally sensitive cabin, the architects followed passive solar principles during the design process. The elevated guest retreat features northern orientation, while deep roof overhangs protect the full-height glazing from unwanted solar heat gain. The project statement also noted, “The angled ‘crank’ in the portals makes the roof appear to float over the pavilion, forming a large protective plate and further opening the space.”
Images by Andy MacPherson