public art brings vibrancy to beachside mixed-use accomodation

Byron Bay NSW, 2017

Our architectural concept for the Old Byron Library presents a rhythmic, vertically proportioned urban street-wall edge to the street. 

The township of Byron Bay missed out on our Stage 2 competition submission for the Old Byron Library site. Council's brief called for a fine-grained, mixed-use project that would provide a best-practice example for future development in the town centre. The unusual building configuration draws people deep into the site providing additional activated frontage and human-scaled spaces. Structural and material strategies emphasised locally sourced and biodegradable elements.  

The footpath is activated with smaller shop frontages, and a diagonal passage crosses the site providing additional frontage for retail and facade for apartment light and ventilation. This porous circulation system of naturally ventilated breezeways rises up the building and is dominated by stack-effect performance utilising luscious planting and cooling breezes. 

A diagonal “passage” and small civic space provide a fine-grained addition to the street and lane network of Byron Bay. These new armatures offer a pedestrian-only shortcut towards main street and the beach. Trafficable surfaces are imagined as local basalt bush-rock from Bay Area Stoneworks in a semi-porous paving arrangement.

Site organisation hopes to catalyse a similar style of development on neighhbouring sites. Laneways can connect through on both N-S and E-W axis and neighbouring sites can take advantage of this new pedestrian network that offers a welcome local vibe in contrast to more generic bulky retailers.  

Central to our proposal is a small, North-facing public space. This place is a quiet bleed-out space for a local Artists “Salon” on the southern edge, and a cafe-bar flanking the eastern edge. The place is also the location of an immersive art installation that combines a super-graphic wall mural with a sculptural planted and seating terrain.

A different series of program are located high up on the roof where exposure to the elements is most extreme. The project takes advantage of its elevation utilising energy from the sun for drying clothes, growing food and generating electricity. When the rain comes these surfaces collects water for storage and re-use.


Client: Byron Bay Council Services: Architecture Number of dwellings: 10 apartments five shops Status: Competition

Adam Russell, Ben Wollen