The design of this house has evolved in response to our quest to find balance between immersion in the incredible beauty of its location, and the creation of a private and serene haven protected from extreme coastal weather, constant traffic and a steady stream of coast walk pilgrims. Our brief was for a house that would adapt to suit the needs of a growing family and provide separate accommodation for extended family and friends.
The design was to be timeless, deferring to the spectacular beauty of its place rather than trying to dominate it. Also fundamental to a successful result for our client were the project goals of embodying the best of sustainable building methodologies, and futureproofing the house through implementation of the most current digital technology.
Acknowledging the obvious natural beauty of the place, the risk for us was that the house would become a ‘one liner’, greedily grabbing at as much view and floorspace as possible. Instead, we have focused on the experience of the house as a series of moments aside from the view; from the moody secret cellar deep in the basement, through daylight washing across the upper floor surfaces through strips of low level glazing, to the wet edge pool wall lit at night terminating the vista through the house.
On a good day, the experience of this site from sunrise to sunset is mesmerising. But conversely, the southerly coastal weather can be brutal, with big seas and strong winds dousing the site in highly corrosive salt spray. With longevity in mind, all structural and enclosure elements have been selected from those with a proven maritime pedigree. Above the sandstone base, therefore, reclaimed hardwood sits alongside high performance glazing units and hi-tech composite fibre roof panels. There is no exposed steel, and virtually no paint.
The three storey house sits above the street on a sandstone clad podium, and is anchored by a beautifully textured off form concrete blade along the northern boundary. Aside from blinkering the house from the neighbours, all services and vertical circulation elements are located along this edge. This has the effect of the rest of the house seeming transparent, and allows living spaces to fold around the core of the house and take best advantage of the outlook which stretches from the MacKenzies Point to the northeast around to Bronte Baths to the South.
These living spaces are flanked by a large terrace to the east and a pool courtyard which extends the family living space inward. Privacy and protection to this court are provided by the bulk of the guest suite which is located on the site’s western boundary. A layered façade of glazing and operable screening blurs the facade line, inviting connection with the sunshine, breeze and beautiful views. But the same façade also battens down for privacy and protection from the elements. The interior of this level is characterised by the grain and patina of natural timber, stone and concrete finishes, and a palette of soft aquatic blues and greens.
The bedroom level, where three bedrooms are arranged around a skylit stair, is characterised by natural daylight and crisp white finishes. Above these rooms floats a single plane fibreglass and carbon fibre roof which tapers to an impossibly thin edge. When architecture is defined by the clarity of simple ideas executed perfectly, success lies in mutually respectful collaboration between the owner and their project manager, a passionate architect, experienced structure and services experts, a skilled and patient builder, and dedicated and skilled trades staff. This house is a rare example of what can happen when that formidable team is presented with an opportunity such as this.