Perched on a cliff, this home is ideally situated to enjoy spectacular views. However, the limited building footprint brought with it challenges of meeting a brief for a much larger site

Designed by Sanctum Design

From the building designer:

Perched on the precipice of a cliff overlooking the picturesque Quakers Hat Bay on Sydney Harbour, the owner was seeking a contemporary replacement for the existing structure which did little to maximise the property’s potential. 

Complex planning restrictions including a flood inundation zone, foreshore protection, Environmental and Aboriginal Heritage protection combined with a 25m fall from front to rear made this commission somewhat challenging, and yet so appealing at the same time.

This site’s topography and fragile geology would make even the most experienced engineer wince, but the brief for this new home was to extract maximum floor area from the limited footprint atop the cliff which occupied only one third of the site area. 

The remainder, complete with centuries old Aboriginal rock art, was ideal for a formed landscape to cascade to a new boat house and jetty. 

The limited building footprint however, brought with it challenges of delivering a brief for a much larger site, and so, space was to be manipulated through split levels, extended volumes, and a cantilevered pool which literally adopts space as its foundation and suspends you over the cliff face.

As the compact floor plate dictated little room for the articulation of the building façade, the core idea was formed to present a simple geometry to the streetscape and let the building unfold as you enter and pursue the harbour views. 

This simple form, expressed as a steel box on a simple blank plinth, required subtle articulation to respond to the human scale and create interest in form and materiality. 

Crisp, linear steel shade hoods, balanced with textural relief allow the building to deliver layers of interest at the streetscape, but let the view do the talking beyond.

South facing views always create challenges for energy efficiency, however careful specification of the building envelope including Hebel cladding panels, double glazed window suites with thermally broken frames, the maximisation of natural daylight, and a solar proxy of a generous photovoltaic array would help make the building naturally comfortable year round.

This natural comfort (a luxury in itself on sites like this) demanded an interior design to literally reflect its environment without losing the sense of warmth that is essential for family living. This was achieved through the careful selection of materiality including chevron timber flooring, travertine tile feature walls and timber veneers creating an earthy, yet luxurious palette.

We feel this home achieved the near impossible – a design that manipulated light and space to create the illusion of a much larger dwelling from within. 

And, whilst the planning, geological and historical odds were stacked against us, this home stretches engineering logic to deliver both physically and aesthetically by embracing generous views and by squeezing every square millimetre from its limited foundation. 

Centuries ago someone made their mark here with the tranquility of the place at its heart – this mark thankfully continues with respect for the site intact, albeit with a modern perspective.

Credit list

Kitchen design
Sanctum Design
Paul Scriver
Fielders 'Boulevard' metal cladding; Covet 'Kabebari' battens; Hebel
Window/door joinery
Capral Narrowline
Trends International Design Awards (TIDA) New Homes – Highly Commended
Newmark Constructions
Interior designer
Brian Hoy
Sanctum Design
Louvre system
Maxim Louvres
Jetmaster – Mezzo

Designed by: Sanctum Design

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Brett Boardman

07 Mar, 2021

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