This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Family’s Former Beach Cabin Turned Stunning Holiday Home

Architecture

A Palm Beach site with spectacular water views deserves an equally stunning home, and Benn + Penna Architecture have created a property to behold – with a surprisingly light touch on the surrounding landscape.

This home replaces a small cabin previously on site built by the owner’s previous generation, creating what’s now a holiday house shared by multiple families on a rotating roster!

 

27th April, 2020

This house by Benn + Penna Architecture is located on a waterfront site in Sydney’s Palm Beach. Photo – Tom Ferguson

Central to the design is an existing and extended stone terrace, which effectively establishes an elevated platform for the new home. Photo – Andrew Benn

The house adopts two distinct forms across two storeys – a platform and a timber canopy – deliberately distinguished to intensify their respective functions.  Photo – Andrew Benn

The living space is contained beneath the upper element, framed by the canopy’s gently arcing underbelly.  Photo – Tom Ferguson

The clients were seeking a comfortable and relaxed experience, without conflicting with the natural beauty of the site. Photo – Katherine Lu

Large doors enable this space to be entirely open or closed as required. Photo – Katherine Lu

Stone and wood are the key materials of the project, continuing the palette of the former cabin on site. Photo – Tom Ferguson

Photo – Katherine Lu

The timber canopy is the main building mass of the house, containing four bedrooms and a ‘bunk room’. Photos – Tom Ferguson

The use of pale blue on the facade and some interior walls is a nod to the previous cabin on site. Photo – Tom Ferguson

The holiday house is now shared by multiple families on a rotating roster. Photo – Katherine Lu

Andrew Benn says this home is best understood as drawing from the landscape, enabling the occupants to immerse themselves into their surroundings. Photo – Katherine Lu

The new house makes the most of its incredible water views. Photos – Andrew Benn

As Australia’s coastlines become increasingly more developed, Benn + Penna hopes this house can act as a blueprint of appropriate design. Photo – Andrew Benn

Amelia Barnes
Monday 27th April 2020

‘The charm of this project is in its interplay between distinct roof and platform elements.’ – Andrew Benn

For decades, this site with undisrupted water views in Sydney’s Northern Beaches sat almost empty, hosting only a small, post-war beach cabin. The owners of the block had a long family history in the area (their ancestors were those who built the original cabin) and wanted to honour this heritage, but with a house that could accommodate ongoing family holidays, on a rotating roster. 

Benn + Penna Architecture were brought on to design the project, retaining and drawing on elements of the original cabin and surrounding landscape in their response. Central to the design is the existing and extended stone terrace, which effectively establishes an elevated platform for the new home, allowing it to emerge almost seamlessly from the cliff face. ‘The existing platform is built with great sensitivity to the landscape and its natural surroundings, with a strong history and presence on the site, making it a great backbone for architectural composition and concept,’ says Andrew Benn, director of Benn + Penna Architecture. 

The actual house adopts two distinct forms across two storeys – a platform and a timber canopy – deliberately distinguished to intensify their respective functions. The timber canopy is the main building mass, containing four bedrooms and a ‘bunk room’, and punctured by voids to channel light and air throughout. 

The living space is contained beneath this upper element, framed by the canopy’s gently arcing underbelly. Large doors enable this space to be entirely open or closed, allowing versatility as required. ‘To me, the charm of this project is in its interplay between distinct roof and platform elements, which frame a space between horizontally sliding planes and sculpted spaces,’ says Andrew.

The use of pale blue on the facade and some interior walls is a nod to the previous cabin on site, as is the broader materials palette, composed predominantly stone and wood. 

Andrew says this home is best understood as drawing from the landscape, enabling the occupants to immerse themselves into their surroundings. ‘The restrained architectural form and deliberately modest built imprint ensures the client’s requirements for a comfortable and relaxed holiday experience don’t conflict with the natural beauty of the site,’ he says. As Australia’s coastlines become increasingly more developed, Benn + Penna hopes this house can act as a blueprint of appropriate design.

This Week

Modernist Australia

A Pristine Mid-Century Family Home Buried In Greenery

A North Balwyn home designed by architect Alan Nance and built in 1957 is on the market, and it's amazing!
Trish Callan

Architecture

A Flood-Proof Transformation Of A 1960s Brisbane Home

Lineburg Wang saved a 1960s Paddington, Brisbane home from future flood damage, and added an inspired indoor-outdoor extension.

Family

Finding Harmony In Life, Business And Family, With Meg Tanaka Of CIBI

CIBI's Meg Tanaka on growing up in Japan, running a family business with three young boys, and living life the CIBI way.
Sally Tabart
  17 hours ago

Architecture

A Breathtaking Coastal Home On The Tasmanian Shoreline

This serene holiday home by Tanner Architects makes the most of its rugged Tasmanian outlook.

Shopping

11 Curated, Independent Homewares Stores We're Obsessed With!

The gifting season is upon us, but these local stores have an impeccable selection of items all year round!

News

The Ultimate Tap For A Minimalist Kitchen

New additions to Phoenix’s award-winning Axia line expand the modern minimalist collection to sleek new heights!
Sponsored

On The Market

Victorian Charm Meets Dramatic Modern Luxury In This Princes Hill Home For Sale

Featuring so many modern, custom made elements, every room in this house has its own distinct personality!

Architecture

A Japanese-Inspired Heritage Home Transformation

Ha Architecture overcame heritage restrictions to transform this Hawthorn home into a Japanese-inspired tranquil space.
Amelia Barnes
  9 hours ago

Designers At Home

At Home With Architect Shin Kil + Visual Merchandiser Jessie Choi

The minimalist Fitzroy apartment of architect Shin Kil and visual merchandiser Jessie Choi, featuring the sleek Samsung The Serif TV.

Shopping

Shop Local At This Fabulous Pop-Up, By Four Of Our Favourite Creatives

Hattie Molloy, Sunday Salon, Curio Practice and Nicole Lawrence Studio come together for a month-long retail residency in Fitzroy. Retail is...

Shopping

Greenhouse Interiors Have Transformed This Heritage Warehouse Into A Fully Shoppable Interiors Mega Space!

Julia Green’s latest venture is her most ambitious yet - a completely shoppable interior project spanning 600 square metres and two floors...

Homes

A Perfectly Personalised Art Deco Rental

The colourful, art deco South Yarra apartment of Skinny Wolf owner and florist Leila Sanderson, and sound engineer Tony Espie.

Podcast

Cormach Evans On Creating Space For Aboriginal Excellence, On TDF Talks

In our podcast season finale, Yorta Yorta man Cormach Evans talks to host Lucy Feagins about the two organisations he founded and directs: S...

News

These Hand Painted Ceramics Celebrate The Soft Power Of Women

Femme Fantasy is the new 22-piece collaborative collection of painted, ceramic vessels from artist Marisa Mu and ceramicist Alicia McVilly.
1.34

One Room Wonders

A Classic, Colourful Kids Room Transformation

We transform a simple baby's bedroom, with Surround by Laminex wall panelling, and a playful injection of colour, pattern and texture!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

Brazilian + Mediterranean Design Influences Combine In This Ultra Glam Sydney Home!

Two architecture practices, an interior design firm, and a landscape designer come together to update this incredible 1960s home!
Amelia Barnes

Architecture

An All-Seasons Beach House Designed For The Whole Family

Inside Whiting Architects' Dunes house – a beach house to suit up to 14 family members and all weather conditions!

Architecture

A Palm Springs-Inspired Oasis In Suburban Sydney

This renovated mid-century home in Vaucluse by Nick Bell Architects brings the WOW-factor!
Miriam McGarry

This Week

News

The Ultimate Tap For A Minimalist Kitchen

New additions to Phoenix’s award-winning Axia line expand the modern minimalist collection to sleek new heights!
Sponsored

Shopping

Shop Local At This Fabulous Pop-Up, By Four Of Our Favourite Creatives

Hattie Molloy, Sunday Salon, Curio Practice and Nicole Lawrence Studio come together for a month-long retail residency in Fitzroy. Retail is...

Homes

A Perfectly Personalised Art Deco Rental

The colourful, art deco South Yarra apartment of Skinny Wolf owner and florist Leila Sanderson, and sound engineer Tony Espie.

Family

Finding Harmony In Life, Business And Family, With Meg Tanaka Of CIBI

CIBI's Meg Tanaka on growing up in Japan, running a family business with three young boys, and living life the CIBI way.
Sally Tabart
  17 hours ago

On The Market

Victorian Charm Meets Dramatic Modern Luxury In This Princes Hill Home For Sale

Featuring so many modern, custom made elements, every room in this house has its own distinct personality!

Podcast

Cormach Evans On Creating Space For Aboriginal Excellence, On TDF Talks

In our podcast season finale, Yorta Yorta man Cormach Evans talks to host Lucy Feagins about the two organisations he founded and directs: S...

Architecture

A Flood-Proof Transformation Of A 1960s Brisbane Home

Lineburg Wang saved a 1960s Paddington, Brisbane home from future flood damage, and added an inspired indoor-outdoor extension.

Architecture

A Japanese-Inspired Heritage Home Transformation

Ha Architecture overcame heritage restrictions to transform this Hawthorn home into a Japanese-inspired tranquil space.
Amelia Barnes
  9 hours ago

Designers At Home

At Home With Architect Shin Kil + Visual Merchandiser Jessie Choi

The minimalist Fitzroy apartment of architect Shin Kil and visual merchandiser Jessie Choi, featuring the sleek Samsung The Serif TV.

Shopping

11 Curated, Independent Homewares Stores We're Obsessed With!

The gifting season is upon us, but these local stores have an impeccable selection of items all year round!

News

These Hand Painted Ceramics Celebrate The Soft Power Of Women

Femme Fantasy is the new 22-piece collaborative collection of painted, ceramic vessels from artist Marisa Mu and ceramicist Alicia McVilly.

Architecture

A Breathtaking Coastal Home On The Tasmanian Shoreline

This serene holiday home by Tanner Architects makes the most of its rugged Tasmanian outlook.
1.34

One Room Wonders

A Classic, Colourful Kids Room Transformation

We transform a simple baby's bedroom, with Surround by Laminex wall panelling, and a playful injection of colour, pattern and texture!

Modernist Australia

A Pristine Mid-Century Family Home Buried In Greenery

A North Balwyn home designed by architect Alan Nance and built in 1957 is on the market, and it's amazing!
Trish Callan

Shopping

Greenhouse Interiors Have Transformed This Heritage Warehouse Into A Fully Shoppable Interiors Mega Space!

Julia Green’s latest venture is her most ambitious yet - a completely shoppable interior project spanning 600 square metres and two floors...

Similar Stories

Architecture

Brazilian + Mediterranean Design Influences Combine In This Ultra Glam Sydney Home!

Two architecture practices, an interior design firm, and a landscape designer come together to update this incredible 1960s home!
Amelia Barnes

Architecture

An All-Seasons Beach House Designed For The Whole Family

Inside Whiting Architects' Dunes house – a beach house to suit up to 14 family members!

Architecture

A Palm Springs-Inspired Oasis In Suburban Sydney

This renovated mid-century home in Vaucluse by Nick Bell Architects brings the WOW-factor!
Miriam McGarry

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.