Wiltshire Pool House
This project was designed for a growing and active family who have a lifelong connection with harbour-side living, enjoying time on the water on boats, and a passion for the beauty of the Sydney coastal landscape.
Northwood NSW
John Wilkin, Eren Harding, Dom Bennett, Anna Honan, Sarah Canavan, Sam Hughes
Brett Boardman

The primary goal for this project was to create a unique and personalised space to live outside – an active and sun-drenched place during the day to share with kids and family, and an elegant and relaxing place of respite at night with friends.

The overall scope of this project consists of a new entry from the rear(street façade) of the existing house, and improved vertical connection between the entry level and the living space 7m below. Aside from some minor, well targeted internal modifications, however, the primary focus of this project was to promote and optimise the quintessential Sydney outdoor living experience envisaged in our client’s brief. So, a new swimming pool connected closely to a pool pavilion building and open play space was designed, with kitchen, bar and wet area facilities provided within.

With such a strong client connection to the landscape and the harbour, the architectural challenge here was not to create an uplifting experience through the architecture in-and-of itself, but rather to provide the same shelter, sustenance and opportunities to enhance the enjoyment of this special place already identified and enjoyed by users past.

The architecture of this project therefore seeks to defer to the spectacular nature of its setting rather than trying to compete with it. The pool-pavilion building is a simple, cohesive, elegant and robust addition to the home. It is the heart of an outdoor living space which is tune-able by shutting down the glazed facade to protect users from the harsh coastal southerlies, or, by opening up completely to connect seamlessly with the pool, lawn, garden and firepit, and provide access to the slender finger of land acting as a private jetty. In short, the building can breathe, protect, expand or contract as needed to suit the function and the weather.

Reflecting the personality of the family, the design is conceived as casual, light-hearted and fun; A place which will become part of the family’s story for years to come.

Both the pool and pavilion are visible from the public domain of Woodfords Bay and the suburbs beyond. With this in mind, the building was designed to sit respectfully into the existing coastal cliff, with minimal vertical weight and landscaped screening around and over the pavilion. The subtle geometries and organic forms carve out an undercroft space immersed in the beautiful landscape and harbour vistas beyond, reminiscent of familiar shallow sandstone cave shaped by the elements along the Sydney coastline.

The roof-scape of the pool pavilion was also carefully considered to enhance, rather than detract from the outlook and amenity of the house behind. The organic form of the horizontal concrete outcrop provides both protection and opportunity, faultlessly planted around three dramatic circular glazed occuli which break the concrete ceiling plane below. Reflecting both the geometry of the refurbished well, and the notional connection with water, these circular forms connect sky to ground, drawing ever-changing light and landscape into the pavilion below, and provide a glowing light source softly animating the roof garden at night.  

Respecting the harsh coastal location and the realities of a young, active family, the materiality of the pool pavilion is characterised by a simple palette of robust off-form concrete and glass. Externally, this is edged by richer constructed landscape elements of stone and wood. Inside, this palette is consistent, but spaces are animated by sensuous curved timber joinery inviting focus to shift to both the skylights over, and to the harbour beyond.

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