The site,located on the north-eastern end of the Balmain peninsula, terraces down from the street to meet the harbour and has extensive views over Goat Island and towards the harbour bridge.
Atstreet level theexisting Victorian villa, constructed in 1883, was of modest but elegant proportions. It had been designed with the main façade facing the harbour and the street was effectively the back of house. The villa was intact, however, the nature of the elegant four room villa had been lost with a series of unsympathetic extensions toward the street and the water. The middle terrace housed a lawn with a substantial mature eucalypt that had grown to become an integral part of the site and the peninsula. The lower terrace had a simple boatshed, slipway and lawn area running out to meet the standstone sea wall.
The concept was to provide a process of discoverythrough the site.Adiscreetstreet entry connects into the original central hallway and provides visual connection to the verdandah and glimpses of the view. A new central stair provides a staged decent that moves down andoutinto a new modern living pavilionextending further into the site and terminating in a viewing deck overlooking the extraordinary harbour views.
The heritage villa was exposed and celebrated and the original iron lacework verandahfacing the water reinstated. A new modern pavilion was added that forms the heart of the design solution. Condensed to a single form located along the southern edge of the site it was deliberately kept modest in proportion and clearly separated from the original villa by a glass slot link.
With a narrow plan it provides access to the northern sun and excellent cross ventilation. It gains a sense of scale, filtered light and indoor/outdoor connection from the adjacent lawn and feature eucalypt. With a slender, yet robust off-form concrete frame, it sinks into the site toward the water to provide extra height to the dining and living area and a sense of opening toward the view whilst maintaining it’s low external profile.
The materials for the new work were deliberately raw and natural with a main palette of off form concrete or stained timber. The strength and simplicity of the concrete form reflects against the warmth of the timber, the bark of the eucalypt tree, the sparkle of the water and grounds itself into the site against the ever changingcontext of Sydney Harbour.