The most desirable sites aren’t always the most straightforward ones when it comes to building a new home. Often an architect has to resolve competing issues of views, sun and privacy.
The north-facing site for the home shown here is literally a stone’s throw away from one of Sydney’s prized harbour bays. While a promenade runs between it and the water, that wasn’t the only privacy consideration architects SAOTA had to account for when planning the house.
The corner site was also adjacent to a wharf and a popular boating club, plus there was a park directly opposite – all resulting in high pedestrian traffic and high visibility for the property.
Project director Philip Olmesdahl says SAOTA worked in association with TKD Architects to meet the challenge of maximising views and outlooks towards the water and park, while at the same time providing privacy for the owners.
“The single biggest driver for the orientation of the house was to have all the principal living rooms opening onto large terraces, with steps down to the garden on the waterside face,” says Olmesdahl.
The garden is raised above the pedestrian promenade, giving privacy from the beach and creating an uninterrupted visual connection between the garden and bay itself from within the house.
Having established openness on this face, the house was then organised on a U-shaped plan, with the arms of the U wrapping round a protected courtyard.
“This creates an entirely private outdoor play area for the children, while also bringing more natural light into the rooms that surround it.”
The largest outside face of the U is on the opposite side of the house and creates a defined street edge, which also needed to address privacy issues, particularly for rooms on the upper level.
This was achieved with blank portions of masonry wall and having some picture windows set high so passers-by can’t see in. But the architects wanted a guest room above the garage to take in the park view.
“Panels of fine woven mesh were placed in front of the window – from the street you can’t see what’s happening on the interior, but from inside there is still an effective view out through the mesh.”
These mesh panels also extend to screen the glazed stairwell, plus were placed outside other bedrooms where privacy could potentially be compromised.
A large, timber roof canopy cantilevers over the street facade and is continued round to the bayside of the house, adding a light, floating touch to the architecture.
Olmesdahl says that SAOTA worked closely with TKD and builders Horizon to ensure a successful connection between the building shell and the interior.
“The interiors continue the use of some of the materials seen on the exterior, such as the timber ceilings and off-shutter concrete, while travertine flooring flows directly from internal living areas to adjacent terraces.
“Using a lot of warm, natural materials and a very detailed approach to the interior architecture overcomes the danger of a contemporary home becoming too cold.”
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