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Our philosophy is to

Touch the Earth Lightly, and the Soul Deeply.

We are a friendly female-led Design Practice located in the beautiful Byron Hinterland. Our vision is to ‘touch the earth lightly, and the soul deeply’, meaning we strive to deliver passively designed, beautiful spaces that our clients love to live in and utilise sustainable and healthy building products. Our building designs work with the climate and place to maintain a comfort that works with nature, not against it.  Sanctuary Design Studio specialises in simple, elegant, functional and sustainable new homes, renovations and extensions.


Fiona Gibson - Founder


Fiona graduated from the Queensland University of Technology in 2001 and 2005 with a Bachelor of the Built Environment (Architectural Studies Major) and a Bachelor of Architecture.


Since moving to Byron Bay in 2007 she has worked for and learnt from some of the leading local Architecture Practices including Troppo Architects, Beach Architects, Harley Graham Architects and Dominic Finlay Jones Architects until Sanctuary Design Studio was conceived mid-2018.

“I love resolving the functional and spatial issues that my clients often have due to a growing family or that they’ve inherited from a house purchase, and bringing their ideas to life beautifully and sustainably. We excel in merging a quality space with creative detailing to provide a bespoke design for our clients.”

When she’s not hard at work, Fiona can be found hanging out with her husband and three gorgeous daughters and their many animals on their property in the Byron Hinterland.

Jesse Weeks


Jesse is a British registered architect who made the move from big city life to the Northern Rivers in 2019. She completed her architectural education at Manchester School of Architecture and worked for leading Manchester firms on a large range of residential, retail and transportation projects. Since relocating, she has found peace and serenity in the area, making the most of what nature has to offer.

“I am excited by how architecture and nature can live together in harmony, and love working with our clients to create something unique and suitable for their needs, whilst also coming up with a designs which are in sync with the environment and surrounding context.”

Emma Tester


Emma is a graduate of architecture, with a background in interior design. Her passion in architecture lies within sustainable holistic design. She values the importance of biophilic design; the positive effects of nature on an inhabitants wellbeing and health. 

Emma has lived in the Byron Shire for over 12 years, with her family of 3 wonderful children. She is a lover of the ocean and the forest, and strives to achieve a natural beauty in all she creates.


“I aim to work with clients and their principles to design beautiful spaces that can enhance moods, connections, and mental health; with natural light and circulation, the inclusion of gardens, and the relationship to the surrounding environment. Passive design features working in harmony with individuals and families’ daily movements brings a subtle serenity into home that is incredibly valuable.” 


"From the start of our project through to the end, I always felt like Fiona understood exactly what we wanted -- both in terms of aesthetics and function. Her drawings and ideas were so spot on throughout the process and everything ticked along like we hoped. We're so happy with the end result, and especially grateful to Fiona for her vision and advice."

- Courtney Adamo, Bangalow -

"Working with Fiona was such a pleasure from start to finish.  She was very professional throughout the whole process and provided a calming presence throughout what I know can often be a stressful experience. 

I had specific Japanese and sustainable design elements that I wanted to incorporate throughout the house and Fiona was amazingly easy to accommodate all of these requirements while providing extra advice on many other aspects.  Fiona guided us through the complexities of the various requirements for our BAL 29 rated house and we also had several easements and deep Asset Protection Zones on our block which dictated the overall footprint of our house.  We were given various options throughout the process to ensure that we ended up with all the design elements that we wanted to create our perfect home.

Fiona liaised with the builder throughout the building process and there were many occasions where I could step away and allow our builder to have his queries answered without my involvement. 

Everything about the process of building our new home from the draft design to the final occupation certificate was so enjoyable and stress free.  We could not be happier with the home that we have created and would highly recommend Fiona Gibson and Sanctuary Design for anyone looking to create their dream home."

- Angie Wilton, Mullumbimby -

"Fiona is a wonderfully talented and creative architect and designer. Her communication is excellent and she is so easy to work with. I love her ideas and she made the whole process smooth and enjoyable. Highly recommended!"

- Julie Streckfuss, Bangalow -

"I found the process efficient, with an excellent design outcome.  A massive thankyou to Fiona and the team.  It was a pleasure to work with you"

- Tim Frogley, Renovation. Broken Head -

"Their professionalism and responsiveness is what stood out most in working with Fiona and her team."

- David McGrath, Affordable Housing Projects.  Northern Rivers Housing  -

Any Questions?

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