- Design Team: Andrew Benn, Sean Tran
- City: Palm Beach
- Country: Australia
Text description provided by the architects. Palm Beach Blue is a new house perched upon a steeply sloping site at Observation Point, Palm Beach, NSW. The project is a holiday home for a large intergenerational family, designed with the flexibility to accommodate a variety of occupants in short term stays.
The home contains 4 bedrooms, each separated by open space, along with a variety of living spaces, both inside and out. The site is situated just beneath the ridgeline of a natural rock shelf, with majestic views of Pittwater Basin and Barrenjoey Headland that are framed by the lush vegetation typical of the peninsula. The project is best understood as drawing from the landscape, enabling the occupants to immerse themselves in their surroundings. The restrained architectural form and deliberately modest built imprint ensure the client's requirements for a comfortable and relaxed holiday experience don’t conflict with the natural beauty of the site. In this sense, the design contributes greatly to our understanding of how a relatively simple design can sit within the local environment, drawing from but not dominating it.
As the magical Australian coastline becomes increasingly developed this house can act as a blueprint of appropriate design. Thorough geotechnical and structural engineering studies of the challenging site were required along with the sympathetic selection of new vegetation by the landscape designer to integrate the design back into the hillside. The clients have a long family history in the area and the new house replaces a cabin built by the family’s previous generation that was typical of the post-war era.
Various fragments of the original cabin are retained, whilst others are reimagined to provide a subtle link with the past. An existing stone terrace is retained and extended along the landscape contour, establishing a platform for the new house to stretch across the views whilst seemingly growing from the nearby cliff-face. The main building mass contains the bedrooms and is conceived as an elevated timber canopy, punctured by voids that channel light and air through the house whilst separating the bedrooms to provide additional privacy. Openings on this level are more discreet and playfully frame views both inside and outside the home.
The pale blue canopy façade, akin to the colour of the water below and the sky above, enables its silhouette to recede into this background. The canopy and the platform are deliberately distinguished to intensify the function of each of these elements. The living space is contained between the two elements, framed by the canopy’s gently arcing underbelly. This space can be entirely open or closed to the landscape allowing climatic and programmatic versatility as required. The project demonstrates principles that relate to both the private and public domains in its determined preservation against the eroding effects of time. What is passed down is not only a construction technique that is of wider public benefit but also a continuance of family history, connectivity, and values.