Coledale House

This secluded family home was designed for a family of four on the wonderful coastline below Sydney’s Royal National Park, on the southern escarpment. The ultimate aim was to produce a home that would accomodate for a family who wished to live perpetually in ‘holiday mode’.

Establishing a strong connection to the environment became an essential mode of achieving this sense of escape and sanctuary. The design of the house revolved its shaping and siting on the precarious location between the cliff and the sea. The formative stages of the project were plagued by the conflicting requirements of geotechnical instability, the threat of bushfire and the expectations of council and client. The finished product was robust enough the encompass the inevitable problem-solving required by such a complex site. Emerging from this poetic and pragmatic design evolution, the building addresses qualitative issues surrounding the notion of place, habitation and family through subtle and dextrous manipulation of space, form and materiality.

A hybrid of both the stable and the light-weight was used to achieve resistance to land movement with its extensive concrete piers and anchors supporting a rigid steel raft which framed the house, while maintaining an elegant timber form. The steepling roofline creates a direct relationship between the towering scale of the forest and the human scale of the front-of-house area.

Internally, the planning is linear, and is filled with a diverse palette of timbers, including ironbark floorboards, hoop pine plywood wall panels and rosewood door and window frames – which creates an unmistakeable feeling of warmth

The warmth of these timber interiors and the many generous openings and colourful operable shutters which ferry breezes into internal living spaces have successfully diminished the barrier between home and forest.

The end result is a private, lively and thoroughly inhabitable and secluded family home which owes much of its success to the relationship it evokes between the architecture, the landscape and the unique prospect.