Text description provided by the architects. Working within the bones of a solid, well-constructed water front home built in the ‘60s on Sydney’s Parramatta River, the adaptive reuse of this multi-level dwelling involved removing the entirety of the internal workings of the existing structure, re-invigorating the central circulation core, promoting light and cross ventilation while embracing the waterfront outlook to the North West.
The dwelling is arranged over four levels cascading from the road frontage towards the water’s edge through a series of lofty indoor and outdoor living spaces which reveal unique views acknowledging the harbour site. The planning divides the home into two distinct areas of private and social living. Private bedroom spaces are located in the timber clad volume to the front of the site, affording privacy to the street while opening toward spectacular views across Morrison’s Bay. The living and entertaining areas are located further down the site, providing a series of open sun-lit terraces and a physical connection to the landscaped waterfront recreation area, including swimming pool and deck.
The extensive living and entertaining spaces are located centrally within the site bounded by two massive masonry walls retained from the original structure. These walls act to provide the living spaces with directionality toward the water and the added benefit of much needed privacy to the adjacent neighbours. Large operable doors and windows visually connect the internal spaces to the immediate site, allowing these areas to open out to the bay and imbue the rooms with a sense of openness and connection to place.
Structurally, steel framework was placed within the cleared floor plate, freeing the space from load-bearing walls and allowing an uninterrupted visual and spatial flow from the internal courtyard through to the outdoor living and dining terrace. All elements of this galvanised steel frame were designed and fabricated offsite utilising digital fabrication techniques, allowing for efficient delivery and installation on a particularly difficult site. The steel structure is set out on a 5000mm grid and, with an allowance for column sizes, an internal zone of 4800mm is achieved. This has allowed for a subsequent 1200mm grid centre, minimising sheet cutting for lining boards and joinery, lessening the associated material wastage. The generous height of the structural steel framework also allows for the inclusion of fixed highlight windows and banks of louvres, providing a surplus of natural light, while promoting cross-ventilation and passive thermal control throughout the dwelling.
The westerly aspect of the site creates significant challenges in dealing with the solar loading of the building in the afternoon, particularly in the warmer summer months. The living areas overcome any unwanted heat load effects using carefully proportioned eaves and by employing timber battening to the north and west, filtering the sun to a dappled light. In the bedroom levels the solar gain is mitigated through the use of external aluminium operable louvre banks which are connected to an integrated CBUS electrical system and can be controlled by individual users in each room as required. Throughout winter months the deep eaves and roof overhangs have been calculated to allow maximum solar penetration within the primary living zones.
The materials chosen were informed by the desire for a warm, natural aesthetic and a healthy living environment free from artificial and chemical finishes. Externally, extensive use of timber grounds the building while sandstone salvaged from the demolition was utilised in the new works. The recycled masonry elements include a new sea wall to Morrison’s Bay in addition to other landscape elements.
The series of terraces and platforms throughout the site showcase over 4.5km of hardwood decking which surrounds the pool and provides an extended outdoor living space. Internally, the use of timber has been moderated with the inclusion of a crisp, clean, modern palette of materials including sparkling white Corian and stainless steel bench tops, natural limestone tiles and painted surfaces. The Tennyson Point House demonstrates skilled, confident craftsmanship and unyielding attention to detail to achieve a versatile and luxurious living environment, one that embraces the challenges of the site to achieve a cascade of living spaces that form a unique and uplifting family home.