HOUSES AWARD: The Sponder House in Byron Bay.
HOUSES AWARD: The Sponder House in Byron Bay. Contributed

Byron Bay architect wins two awards in national honours

BYRON Bay's Harley Graham Architects has won both the Residential Architecture Houses Award and the Residential Architecture Alterations and Additions categories at the recently announced 2013 Australian Institute of Architects' NSW Country Division Architecture Awards.

The company won the AWS Residential Architecture, Alterations and Additions Award for their Rainbird House, and took out the CSR Residential Architecture Houses Award for their Sponder House. Both houses are in Byron Bay.

Mr Graham grew up in Byron Bay and after graduating from University of NSW he travelled to Berlin, where he worked with Studio Daniel Libeskind on large mixed-use and cultural projects in Switzerland, the UK and China.

He founded Harley Graham Architects while in Berlin before returning to Byron Bay where he has been practising for the past 10 years, completing about 25 projects.

"We have a strong focus on sustainability and blurring the boundaries between the indoors and the outdoors," Mr Graham said.

"For instance, we don't incorporate air-conditioning, concentrating instead on capturing the natural breezes and creating a space that works with the local climate.

"It's fantastic to win these awards as we put huge amounts of effort into making these beautiful pieces of sculpture."

Mr Graham is also a member of the Design Advisory Panel of the Northern Rivers, a group of local design professionals including architects, landscape architects, urban planners and engineers. He sees a need for the local community to be constantly monitoring and questioning the style of development across the region.

"This town has a great history of being proactive (when it comes to development) and I am optimistic about the future," he said. "But we need to be vigilant about our town centre because that is where things can get out of control.

"We are moving towards a new reality with state planning where there is a real possibility that power will be taken away from local councils and communities to decide on development.

"Byron Bay needs to be careful to come up with some sustainable plans to meet these challenges."

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