Coastal Summertime Architecture
If residential interior design is a reflection of its residents — income, interests, time of life — architecture is a reflection of a place — all of the above plus the natural environment, building technology, and local materials. Whenever I spend a chunk of time in one place, especially as a leisure traveler, I find myself studying the architecture for clues to better understand and appreciate a locale.
Recently, I posted on the pleasure I take from soaking up a locale and relaxing with local shelter magazines. However, when time and weather allows, there’s nothing better than walking through a city or town to get to know a place through its architecture.
My family and I are ending our year with a visit to Sydney, Australia. Whether in the city or its suburbs, Sydney is one of those places that screams its history through its buildings. Grand colonial structures built with the local sandstone. English arts and crafts–style dwellings reinterpreted with verandas to protect from the local sun. Federation style homes also with the requisite verandas framed with local iron. Modern office and apartment buildings turned to capture the views and strong breezes. Roofs tilted for solar panels and to capture rain water.
Perhaps because my family mostly visits Sydney during its summer — and we often rent a coastal holiday home with our extended family and friends — I spend a pleasurable amount of time thinking about coastal living and architecture and how it has come to represent many of the elements of Australian summertime lifestyle we — who have escaped from the NYC winter — love.
I’ve always loved the flora here — the color palette reminds me of my childhood home in Northern California with an added dose of tropical colors and birdsong. The trees are either that dark green of pines and eucalyptus — deep and muted with greys — or bright, fresh and lush from the tropics. A perfect complement to the pink beige and rough browns of the sandstone cliffs and beaches. The ocean and harbors range from tropical blues to deep teal greens, quickly shifting with the weather. Bottle brush trees, palm trees, lantana, hibiscus, and numerous flowers and shrubs that I don’t know the names of add texture to the scrub that naturally springs up anywhere it can.
The nearby homes — and others throughout the coastal Sydney areas — take full advantage of the local environment.
Homes spun towards the ocean, with wide windows to capture the views and the breezes.
Retaining walls, deck patios, and interior spaces built from local sandstone.
Windows with external louvers, and sliding plantation style panels to control the southern hemisphere light.
Furniture by the beach is often modern or contemporary, and easy to maintain.
Even office spaces include outdoor meeting and gathering spaces, leaving my husband and me to sometimes daydream, why don’t we live here?
PS – We love New York and all of the other places we visit and may someday live, too. But sometimes it’s nice to fantasize.
See my Pinterest board Sydney Summertime Architecture and Inspiration, for a few more images of my current infatuation.