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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.

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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. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net