Tamarama House
The design of this house evolved in response to the quest to find a balance for our client between immersion in the incredible beauty of the 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.
Tamarama, NSW
Eren Harding, Fiona Blades, Karina Rafailov, Trevor Black, Dom Bennett, Jacqueline Bennett, John Wilkin
Brett Boardman

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.

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.

I have always felt a deep connection with Sydney’s rocky coastline and beaches. At Tama, I saw an opportunity to create a peaceful haven for my time in Sydney, an environment aligned with my active lifestyle, and eventually, a place to raise a family. My brief was for a timeless home that contributed positively to the neighbourhood. I wanted to experience both expansive, breathtaking moments and quiet, private ones. The design rigour, build quality and sustainability exceed all expectations. But mostly, I love the experience of living in this house, and sharing this with family and friends.
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