Habitat People

HABITAT PEOPLE: BEAU THE BARBER

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We caught up with master barber Beau, of Byron Bay Barber Co., to chat Byron, barbering and the Department of Simple Things... 

Beau, how long have you been living and working in Byron?

I moved up from Melbourne four years ago and have been working locally ever since. I live up on Fowler’s Lane, just outside of Bangalow. It’s awesome, the first rock concert out of Sydney was based there recently!

You’re based at Mr Simple’s much loved Department of Simple Things, when did you guys first open the store?

We launched around 6 months ago (November 2017). It’s just me here on the barber side of things. David Fraser owns Mr Simple, which has just celebrated its 10-year anniversary out of Melbourne. This is the brand’s first concept department store for men.

Sounds great! What was the attraction for you and David to open your concept store here at Habitat?

It’s where we are, it’s where we all live. It’s basically in the centre of our worlds up here. We all surf and ride motorbikes, and it was just great to be a part of something new and awesome in Byron.

What can visitors expect to find at Simple Things?

The beauty of it is that we meet all walks of life here. We get local guys and blue-collar workers who we love, then there’s a few local celebrities. Mr Jason Grant is a client, and Mick Fanning has been in to get his hair cut. We also see plenty of local retirees, actors and artists, yeah...such a broad range of people, it’s just crazy. And it doesn’t matter where you’re from or what you do, we treat everyone equally. We’ve got a lot of local regulars and also a lot of tourists, it makes it fun – it mixes it up.

What are your plans or upcoming projects at the store?

We’re running a monthly event called ‘Simple Skills’ at the moment, where we invite a local tradesman or someone with an interesting skillset to come and give workshops at the store. Like Evan, for example (from Salt x Steel, who led the first Simple Skills workshop), he actually made the furniture we’re sitting on – proof he does great work! We basically select things we want to learn about for ourselves, then extend the invite to other people to come and join us and hopefully they get some interest out of it as well. You should come, have some beers, learn a skill, just hang out.

What’s something in store that isn’t offered elsewhere?

We’ve got the Yeti Eskies which are pretty cool.

What’s your insider tip for locals or visitors to Byron Bay?

Il Buco – in Bay Lane, it’s an Italian pizza place. It’s number one in Australia on Trip Advisor. It’s insane! 

You can find Beau at The Department of Simple Things from Monday to Saturday, 9.30am - 5.30pm. 

Follow: @byronbaybarberco & @departmentofsimplethings to stay up to date with the store! 

HABITAT PEOPLE: DOMINIC FINLAY-JONES

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Local award-winning architect, Dominic Finlay-Jones talks about the design of Habitat and how it will benefit the community of Byron Bay…

WHAT WAS THE BRIEF FOR THIS MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENT?

To design a village for people to live and work in the one place and thereby reduce the reliance on a car for the daily commute.

THE COMMERCIAL PRECINCT (PHASE ONE) HAS COMMENCED CONSTRUCTION - WHAT STAGE IS PHASE TWO (RESIDENTIAL) AT?

Stage 2 is under detailed design and will be issued to the builders over the coming months so that they can flow directly from completing Stage 1 through the rest of the buildings.

HOW HAVE YOU APPROACHED THE DESIGN? HOW HAVE FACTORS SUCH AS THE LOCAL AESTHETIC, LIFESTYLE, ENVIRONMENT & CLIMATE INFLUENCED THE DESIGN & MATERIAL PALETTE?

The development is defined by a simplicity to the architecture, with larger buildings broken down in scale to allow covered outdoor spaces to exist between them - which is a direct response to the climate - plenty of shade, sub-tropical gardens and ventilation. Materials are generally either naturally finished, or pre-finished - to reduce the amount of paint required and to allow the buildings to age gracefully.

WHAT ENVIRONMENTALLY SUSTAINABLE DESIGN INITIATIVES WILL BE INCORPORATED IN THIS DEVELOPMENT?

All of the buildings feature natural ventilation, natural light and high thermal mass - all of which combines to reduce any reliance on mechanical cooling or heating and lighting. All of the common areas are lit using LED low wattage lights and all of the buildings will have photovoltaic cells for energy generation. There is a large amount of water storage on site for re-use in toilets and gardens. We are also looking into shared electric cars and solar power micro-grid storage. The development also features a large wetland for the local native Wallum Froglets and birds.

WHAT HAVE BEEN THE MAIN CHALLENGES AND HOW HAVE YOU OVERCOME THESE?

The biggest challenge has probably been planning legislation which inadvertently seems to stifle innovation by trying to prevent bad development rather than encouraging good ones. This is no unique to this area - it is across the board - it is a large ship to try and turn around but hopefully developments like Habitat can show that it is possible to deliver good built environment outcomes in one package.

HOW DO YOU SEE THIS DEVELOPMENT BENEFITING THE INHABITANTS AND BYRON BAY MORE BROADLY?

I think it will create a bit of focus in the Byron Arts and Industry Estate, which has developed in a very informal and rambling way. If there is a cluster of creative people working away on the things that they are passionate about amongst architecture that allows them to do what they do, we will be happy.

WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON THE FUTURE OF LIVE/WORK MIXED-USE DEVELOPMENTS IN REGIONAL LOCATIONS?

There is something unique about Byron, there is no doubt about that - and so to us it is no surprise that this type of innovative development would get up here. Having said that, it could work wherever there are enough people who want to live and are prepared to look at their work/life differently in order to achieve it.

HABITAT PEOPLE: BRANDON SAUL

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YOU PURCHASED THE LAND FOR HABITAT 18 YEARS AGO – WHAT WERE YOUR THOUGHTS AT THE TIME IN REGARDS TO DEVELOPING IT?

The land has quite a back story. It was zoned as a “village” some 30 years ago with the intention of building a “model village”. Council even sent people to Scandinavia to look at what were then, quite revolutionary “sustainable” housing models. What we’ve designed is in many ways just an extension of that original intent – somewhere people can live and work in a socially and environmentally progressive, village environment. To their credit, Council have supported the project from the very outset - producing site specific development control plans to allow smaller, more modest commercial/housing options.  Planning controls that would allow people to live, work and play in the one place.

HAS YOUR VISION CHANGED OVER TIME? IF SO, WHAT INFLUENCED THIS?

Fundamentally no, my vision hasn’t changed. The idea was always to build a variety of different commercial and housing options to suit owner-occupied, passion-based businesses. You need only drive through the Byron Arts and Industry Estate to see there is an unsatisfied need for a built form that will allow people to live and work in the same place. People are striving to achieve a good work/life balance. Habitat is simply a reflection of this trend.

WHAT MAKES HABITAT SPECIAL? 

Habitat is one of the only developments I am aware of that has been specifically designed for people to live and work in the same place.

The concept of a village lifestyle was somewhat lost with the introduction of cars. From a town planning perspective, there has been an emphasis on making people drive to work. This development is about returning to more of a “human” scale.

It is all about bringing like-minded people and businesses together – progressive minded business people who value a sense of community that is part and parcel of the Byron lifestyle. It's also for those amongst us that want to lead a more sustainable, balanced lifestyle - without having to compromise on creature comforts or style.

The community facilities at Habitat also set it apart from everything else currently on offer in the region. Facilities including; a lap pool, designated staff and visitor parking, electric car charging points, change facilities for those that want to ride their bike to work, shared meeting rooms, top tier solar power capabilities and perhaps most importantly, super-fast internet access via the NBN network. All lots enjoy full “fibre” connections to the premises - enabling download speeds of 100 MBPs or more [depending on your choice of ISP].

And…technology aside, there's something special about having good coffee at your doorstep and being able to walk to the beach at lunch...

WHAT MADE YOU DECIDE TO GO INTO PROPERTY DEVELOPMENT, HAVING FOCUSED YOUR CAREER ON BEING A FESTIVAL PROMOTER?

I did three weeks of architecture before changing to law and accounting – then ignored both to become a festival promoter. The core of being a festival promoter is town planning - traffic, waste management, liaising with council – for me property development is a natural extension of all of this.

DO YOU FEEL YOUR BACKGROUND WORKING IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES HAS INFLUENCED THE WAY IN WHICH YOU HAVE APPROACHED HABITAT?

Completely. I have always been interested in the creative industries. I think when people talk about the creative industries, what they are really talking about are passion-based businesses - that's where my experience lies and Byron is a place where these businesses can really prosper. 

BYRON BAY IS GLOBALLY RECOGNISED AS ONE OF AUSTRALIA’S MOST POPULAR BEACHSIDE TOWNS, HOW DOES IT STACK UP FROM A BUSINESS PERSPECTIVE?

I may be biased, but I think Byron is one of the few regional locations in this country from which you could easily base an international business. As businesses like Spell have proved, [thanks to the internet] you really can be a “global player” from what is essentially a small regional town. This is increasingly the trend. There is the idea of dropping “out and in” at the same time in Byron. You can surf at lunch and run a serious business in the afternoon. Cheap air travel and good internet is enabling people to make the change - to “live the dream”.  Who doesn’t want that?