New family home makes the most of prized views from its bayside site without compromising privacy

All main living rooms open onto large terraces, with steps down to the garden on the waterside face, while the streetside is skilfully screened from passers-by

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.

​​​​​​​Although sited on a corner next to a architecture, backyard, elevation, facade, home, house, property, contemporary, SAOTA
​​​​​​​Although sited on a corner next to a popular beach, public pier and boat club, this large family home retains a high degree of privacy on its street facade. A mesh panel strategically positioned in front of the upper floor bedroom window allows occupants to enjoy the outlook, while screening the view into the interior from passers-by.

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.”

​​​​​​​Large, slim framed glass panels open up this chair, dining room, furniture, interior design, patio, table, SAOTA
​​​​​​​Large, slim framed glass panels open up this family, dining and formal living areas to outdoor living terraces, and make the most of the view over the bay. Using the same stone floor inside and out, and having the terrace’s white ceiling also extend partially into the interior subtly blurs the lines between indoors and outdoors.

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.”

Credit list

SAOTA – project team Philip Olmesdahl, Erin Gibbs and Duke Williams
Interior decor
Consulting Engineers
ACOR Consultants
Premier Pools
Off-form concrete
Door Hardware
LSW Architectural
Stone floor from Worldstone; wall tiles from Academy Tiles
Point of View
Motorised blind and curtain systems
Aalta; fabrics by Piega
Kitchen cabinetry
Limewashed Tasmanian Oak and polyurethane joinery by Enth Degree
Architects in association
Tanner Kibble Denton Architects (TKD)
Wyer & Co
Kaynemaile Screens from Austaron Surfaces
Window/door joinery
Glazed doors and windows by Vitrocsa Australia (primary); AJ Aluminium (secondary)
Timber batten ceiling
Woodform Architectural
Underfloor heating
Inform Energy
Southern Cross Climate Control
Ceiling fans
Concrete slab by 2barrows
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) Homes – Winner

Story by: Paul Taylor

Photography by: Adam Letch

16 Feb, 2019

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