The brief for M House stipulated, above all, the necessity of a restful and private family home.
At the same time, there was no denying the site’s breathtaking position located in Clareville on Sydney’s Northern Beaches overlooking Pittwater.
‘The land meets the water’s edge and the view beyond is of water, dense bushland, and the western horizon,’ says Thomas Martin, director of Rama Architects, who designed the home.
‘The feeling of being outside and experiencing the majestic view — yet still being sheltered by a formative structure — was key, and this is where we played with the idea of hard and soft.’
‘Hard’ is represented in the home’s dramatic form that embraces concrete, stone and tallowwood timber. The result is a solid structure with deep drawn-out eaves creating a strong and safe shelter in which to recede.
‘Soft’ is exemplified through natural light introduced via generous voids and lush landscaping intended to envelope the home over time. ‘The soft allows the strong and secure shelter to become one with the trees, plants and water surrounding the home,’ says Thomas.
This balance of hard and soft elements draws on the principles of Brazilian modernism defined by light, ventilation, voids, deep eaves, and greenery and influenced by Brazil’s subtropical climate.
‘M House is located in the Northern Beaches of Sydney and shares a similar subtropical climate so the concepts of Brazilian modernism fit well within the landscape of the Pittwater foreshore,’ says Thomas. ‘The house feels very indoor/outdoor and the natural landscape has informed the design of the house.’
Warmth has been added to the interiors through the insertion of exposed stone features surfaces (referencing materials in a client’s former farm house) and a detailed timber ceiling. ‘The ceiling when looking along its entirety is remarkable. [It’s] such a large expanse yet so delicately crafted and executed,’ Thomas says.
‘There was a real desire to have a deep connection to the landscape and to honour the existing bangalay trees that stand proudly on the land, and have so for generations,’ says Thomas.
More so than the water, these trees dictated the position of the home on the site, leading to the creation of a central courtyard. Thomas explains, ‘There was an existing bangalay tree that stood in the centre of the block. Some may have viewed this as an impediment, but we embraced this tree and allowed it to influence our design.
‘As such, we created a courtyard in the centre of the building to not just showcase the majestic tree, but to provide room and space for it to grow and remain healthy and vibrant.’
Floating slabs lightly touch the ground, allowing the existing landscape to flourish and thrive.
Over time, the home’s rooftop planting will continue to drape down from above, providing a canopy of green. ‘The house will recede further into the landscape making it less visible from the water,’ says Thomas.
The completed home is visually awe-inspiring, while remaining appropriate and functional for a Sydney family.
‘The house allows them to enjoy the incredible views of Pittwater but is entirely private from neighbours,’ says Thomas.
‘It feels almost bunker-like, secure, and solid, yet also open, airy, light and bright.’