Faced with a steeply sloping site that promised a spectacular ocean view in Sydney’s eastern suburbs, architect Matthew Krusin, principal of Tobias Partners, knew that a terraced design was the answer. “We had a challenge – we knew how many levels we needed to go up and we didn’t want to create a straightup monster,” says Matthew. However, it’s one thing to terrace down but very different to terrace up. “We had to ensure that as you ascend the site each level is an experience. Otherwise you just feel you are constantly walking up.”
The single-storey house that occupied the site squandered its dress-circle ocean views. Having lived in the neighbourhood for some time the owners wanted to be close to the beach for their two young children and were excited by the possibilities of the block. They needed space but also wanted a simple design where all the levels of the house felt connected.
The family and the architect began discussions on the rebuild in 2013. “We worked slowly and took our time with the design, looking at the different conditions,” says Matthew. “It was a nice collaborative process and we wanted to be sure everyone was happy with how we were using the site. We wanted to create a beautiful finished product but we didn’t want to overcapitalise.”
The resulting house steps back up the slope from a sandstone-encased underground garage and timberbattened foundations at street level. A series of concrete frames form the structure that rises more than 13 metres from the road with a “delicate hat” sitting at the top. The lift and stair are set off to one side to allow the full width of the fairly slender site to be utilised.
Volumes are modest but the design manages to pack in five bedrooms, three and a half bathrooms, living, dining, rumpus and various outdoor terraces. To ensure plenty of natural light enters the house a massive skylight was specified for above the stair, which is concrete on the first levels giving way to opentread timber leading to the bedrooms. Gardens designed by Sticks & Stones on each floor create a connection with the outdoors that adds to the sense of openness. Yet, privacy is foremost with timber screens, external louvres, frosted glass and judicious planting creating the feeling of a sanctuary.
While the focus is firmly on the ocean view, glamorous features such as the showstopping 5.4-metre-long kitchen island bench in Verde Tinos marble draw the eye, while the light fixtures such as the Viabizzuno ‘C2 Anelli’ suspension lamps over the dining table and the Gubi ‘Multi-Lite’ pendant lights in the master robe are dramatic punctuation points in the interior narrative. »