From Ashes to Icon: The Story of Y House

On a devastating Christmas Day in 2015, an unforgiving inferno swept through Wye River, leaving a path of devastation in its wake.

The once vibrant community was reduced to charred remnants, with the flames mercilessly claiming 116 homes. Among the ashes lay the ruins of a cherished family retreat, a place that had once echoed with laughter and love. For the owners, the fire was not just a physical loss; it was the heart-wrenching end of an era.

But from this tragedy rose a powerful vision of renewal and resilience. Architect Andrew Simpson, tasked with the monumental challenge of rebuilding, saw beyond the destruction. He envisioned a home that would not only withstand the elements but also bring together three generations of a family, weaving their lives into the fabric of the Wye River landscape once more. Simpson’s design would transform this scarred site into a beacon of hope, symbolising the community’s unwavering spirit and capacity for rebirth.

Central to this vision was the selection of materials capable of enduring Wye River’s harsh environment—salt, corrosion, intense heat, and the ever-present threat of fire. UniCote Coastal emerged as a crucial player in tackling these challenges. Its exceptional durability and resistance to the elements ensured that the new Y House would not only survive but thrive in one of the most demanding landscapes imaginable.

By incorporating UniCote Coastal, the project achieved a harmonious blend of aesthetic appeal and resilient design, standing as a testament to innovation and quality in the face of adversity.

A Design for Generations: Inspired by a triptych—a three-panel artwork—Andrew Simpson’s Y House design symbolises family reconnection. The Y-shaped floor plan not only brings generations together but also gives each their own unique space and perspective. The design masterfully integrates the bespoke Wye River location, blending the home with its surrounding environment.

  • The Tranquil Wing: Facing Separation Creek, this section offers a peaceful and contemplative area, ideal for moments of solitude and reflection.
  • The Coastal Wing: Oriented towards Wye River Beach, this part of the house captures sweeping ocean vistas, celebrating the coastal beauty and providing a soothing backdrop.
  • The Highland Wing: Directed towards the summit and the surrounding hillside, this wing offers panoramic views of the rugged terrain, adding a touch of natural grandeur to the living experience.

These distinct perspectives converge at the heart of the home, the central point where the family gathers, designed to highlight the warmth and unity of the household.

Rebuilding on a site with the highest Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings presented significant challenges. The stringent regulations required innovative solutions, turning obstacles into opportunities.

The clearing of vegetation by the fire provided uninterrupted views of the coast, transforming what was once a densely wooded area into a panoramic vista.

Forged in Community

Following the fires, the Victorian government engaged Grocon to manage the cleanup efforts. Grocon’s primary objective was to ensure that all bushfire waste was cleared efficiently and safely, paving the way for the community’s rebuilding process.

Local Involvement: Many local labourers, including bobcat operators and traffic controllers, were employed, highlighting the community’s involvement in recovery efforts. Grocon created opportunities by partnering local trades and sole traders with larger companies, enhancing the community’s role in the recovery.

Grocon’s experience in handling hazardous materials, such as asbestos and arsenic, ensured that the cleanup was conducted with the highest safety standards, with no loss of life or serious injuries.

Resilient Design Considerations

The fire underscored the importance of building homes with high fire ratings. Some houses with higher Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) ratings survived the blaze, demonstrating the effectiveness of these safety measures. The Y House was designed to withstand BAL-40, the second highest bushfire attack level, which was crucial for the architect in rebuilding the residence in Wye River.

UniCote materials, tested in Australian conditions and rated BAL FZ—the highest level for fire-protected materials—played a pivotal role in achieving this protection level. Prioritising safety and resilience, these materials and designs were essential to ensuring the house could withstand future bushfires.

Rebuilding with Love: Camson Homes, the builders, brought Andrew’s vision to life, ensuring the house not only met stringent safety standards but also exuded a sense of belonging and connection. The Y House stands today as a symbol of resilience, a place where family ties are strengthened, and new memories are forged.

Stramit’s Contribution: Stramit’s involvement in this project was pivotal. The Stramit Longspan® roof and wall cladding profile using UniCote Coastal steel provided both structural integrity and aesthetic appeal. Its durability and ability to withstand extreme weather conditions made it an essential component of the Y House. Stramit’s commitment to quality, using UniCote, a premium alternative to traditional market solutions, contributed to the overall value and capability of this project in terms of both safety and quality.

Materials Used in this project

  • Roofing & Cladding: Stramit Longspan roof / cladding in UniCote Coastal ‘Monolith’
  • Internal Walls: Boral plasterboard lining; Outlast silver-top ash timber lining boards in Cutek oil finish.
  • Windows and Doors: Miglas Aliclad BAL-40-rated composite aluminium- and timber-framed glazed doors and windows

An Inside Look

Inside, Y House is a sanctuary of warmth and calm. Timber joinery, carefully crafted stair handrails, and the stunning intersection of floorboards and ceilings reflect meticulous attention to detail. Each room is designed to its comfortable minimum, emphasising sustainable living without sacrificing comfort or style. The interior’s elegant simplicity complements the natural surroundings, creating a harmonious living space.

 UniCote Coastal – The Choice for Excellence

The Wye River Environment Meets Its Match

Facing the dual challenges of a coastal environment and a high fire-risk zone, selecting the right materials for Y House was paramount. The exterior needed to withstand harsh coastal conditions while providing superior fire protection. UniCote Coastal, formerly supplied in Australia as MagnaFlow, emerged as the perfect solution. Its exceptional durability and aesthetic qualities ensured the house could endure the elements while maintaining its beauty.

The sleek, modern finish of UniCote Coastal not only enhanced the house’s visual appeal but also provided the highest level of protection against extreme conditions, fulfilling the homeowners’ vision of a resilient, beautiful, and sustainable home.

Key Benefits of UniCote Coastal: UniCote Coastal is designed specifically for challenging environments like Wye River. It offers numerous advantages:

  • Perfect for Coastal Conditions: Provides robust protection against salt spray and coastal weather.
  • 30% Thicker Protective Coating: Enhances durability and longevity.
  • Added Magnesium: Improves corrosion resistance.
  • Industry-Leading Warranties: Offers peace of mind with comprehensive coverage.
  • Tested in Australian Conditions: Ensures reliability in local climates.
  • Wide Range of Colours: Allows for aesthetic flexibility and design creativity.
  • Non-Combustible: Enhances safety in fire-prone areas.
  • Thermal Efficiency: Contributes to energy efficiency and indoor comfort.
  • Bushfire Attack Level (BAL) Ratings: UniCote materials are available with BAL FZ ratings, the highest level of bushfire protection.

UniCote Coastal’s combination of resilience, aesthetic appeal, and superior protection ensured that Y House was built to withstand its challenging environment, providing a safe and beautiful home for generations to come.

A Testament to Resilience and Innovation

The Y House project exemplifies how thoughtful design and superior materials can transform a site fraught with challenges into a beacon of hope and beauty.

By leveraging the advanced features of UniCote Coastal and the skilled craftsmanship of Stramit and Camson Homes, the project stands as a testament to resilience, innovation, and the power of family connections. This iconic home is not only a safe haven for the family but also a shining example of what can be achieved when vision and quality come together.

For more details on this inspiring project, you can read our Case study Wye House – Click here

If you would like to get a deeper understanding of the project, you can read the architects case study click here or visit the following articles to see alternative perspectives of one of Australia’s most iconic residential properties. Explore more on Architecture & Design, Archify, Architecture AU, The local project and

We look forward to sharing more about innovative projects like Y House on our blog and social channels, celebrating the incredible collaborations that bring these visions to life.