When Stafford Architecture were brought on to design a new house in Seaforth (12 kilometres north-east of Sydney’s CBD), they were immediately taken with the site’s conspicuous sandstone ridge.
Development approval (sought by a previous owner) had already been approved to cut into this natural feature, but Stafford Architecture had other ideas. ‘On visiting the site and experiencing the magic of this leafy corner with the incredible sandstone ridge, we could not fathom building on top of and cutting into this significant feature,’ says Bronwyn Litera, senior associate at Stafford Architecture.
Luckily their clients agreed, and the parties worked closely to deliver a home highlighting this unique feature.
The resulting design positions the home’s living areas above this ridge. ‘We worked hard to maintain the rock as untouched,’ explains Bronwyn. ‘Structural connections were made as minimal as possible, services were concealed within the voids of the existing sandstone, and the loose boulders were repurposed amongst the landscaping.’
The use of steel accentuates the lightness of the building above the sandstone outcrop, while vertical spotted gum battens mimic the look and rhythm of surrounding trees. ’The house is to feel weightless and airy for the inhabitant – somewhat of a treehouse floating in the canopy,’ says Bronwyn. A sharp-edged roof accent further highlights the sensibility of the rock below, and simultaneously draws the eye up to the tree canopy.
Internally, a concrete blade wall acts as the home’s spine, effectively separating the living areas from the grounded private wing that ‘hugs’ the site. Included in this latter component are the garage, bedrooms, and en suite containing a screened, outdoor area with a vertical garden.
The most challenging aspect of this project was maintaining the site’s sandstone ridge, while complying with height restrictions, and not blocking views across Middle Harbour. To overcome this, Stafford created a mezzanine over the kitchen, which opens to a double-height void over the living and dining areas.
It wasn’t easy, but Stafford have gone above and beyond to deliver a respectful and interesting home.