Exploring new boundaries of DESIGN

As we look to the future, work-at-home offices are set to become a permanent feature of modern residential living and it will be the principles of good design that will underpin long term working-from-home success.  Here we explore the boundaries of design for this new reality, while enhancing the functionality, aesthetic and indeed, value of private residences.

Successful work-from-home offices are reliant upon achieving work/life balance through thoughtful design that enables seamless co-existence with the private residence.

The challenge is ensuring the ‘fit’ of an office within the footprint of the home - functionally, socially and aesthetically - by creating a space which will allow for work and can be used for other homelife experiences. 

Whether accommodating an office in to-be-renovated existing homes or for new-builds, there is a new consciousness of cleverly using space rather than simply taking a make-it-bigger approach.

Functional practicality, comfort and aesthetics combined with environmental and sustainability matters are top of mind considerations.

In 2017, we designed O’Shea House, in Machans Beach Cairns. Here we explored the boundaries of good design to create a luxury home that successfully incorporated a permanent work-from-home office.  

With a small footprint and compact plan, our design included soaring ceilings that provided a sense of spaciousness. Consistent with our clients’ sustainability values we designed a residence with an enviable energy efficiency rating (8.0/10.0 Stars). Environmentally sustainable design considerations included a list of eco friendly building materials and finishes including low-VOC paints.

We also incorporated design elements such as generous roof overhangs, sunhoods to western glazed walls, well insulated roof, ceilings and insulated wall cladding applied to the north west and south west walls to reduce solar heat gain creating enduring cost savings for the home owner. 

Throughout the residence, self-cleaning Viridian-Green tinted glass further reduces glare and heat, as does the light-coloured external finishes.

Importantly, the design needed to satisfy personal comfort of living and working in the tropical coastal location. This was achieved by cross ventilation which funnels seasonal north east and south easterly breezes to cool the internal spaces. Openings on either end of the rectangular plan enables longitudinal air movement year-round.

Located on the first floor, the office benefits from natural light and air flow. Aesthetically, a well-positioned void space, perfectly frames a spectacular ocean view and while it may encourage the occasional day dream, mostly it creates a quietly beautiful space ideal for maximising productivity.

The design enables the office to operate effectively and maintain privacy (for both the business and home owner) while providing seamless cohabitation spaces that may be used by the family and their many friends.

Insightful, and indeed thoughtful design, has enabled business-life to gently coexist with this family’s private-life.

Rather than simply adding-in the office as an extra, our approach carefully integrated the work-from-home office so it ‘fits’ comfortably within the overall design of the home. In doing so, the home owner avoided the now sustainably unpopular large home outcome that would have not only committed them to greater building expense, but a lifetime of higher running costs as well.

Now several years later, the homeowner continues to tell us that passers-by regularly stop and take photos of their home, which has successfully met the brief for an inviting and engaging coastal residence that allows connection to its community and the environment.

To discuss how we can help you to explore the boundaries of design for your private residence, please contact JMc Architects.

By Julianne Field, Director, FRAIA, BOAQ No. 2965

JMc Architects is an award-winning architectural firm known for collaborating with luxury high-end residential private clients, government departments, large institutions and construction companies to create innovative and sustainable buildings that enhance quality of life and contribute positively to communities.