Coogee House II: a Sydney Grand Design

Coogee House II: a Sydney Grand Design


What’s a couple of stone importers to do when designing their new home? Chisel a chip off the old block for themselves, that’s what! From sandstone to marble and terrific terrazzo, Coogee House II has rocks that’ll knock your socks off

Madeleine Blanchfield Architects was responsible for completing the four-bedroom, three-bathroom home with rumpus room, swimming pool and large terrace. Built for a young family, the unique Coogee House II is robust without the slightest ostentation, and encourages interaction between living rooms and breakout spaces.

Catering to the steep, long and constrained site was challenging, while mono-directional views and prolific neighbouring properties were formidable foes. Oriented towards the ocean in the east, it was important the home be light and bright, with the ability to capture the afternoon sun.

The property’s densely populated suburban location required savvy management of privacy and views. Internal courtyards, lofty spaces and muted materials create the impression of openness in what could have been simply a tunnel with views. “Courtyards are used to bring in northern light, respect neighbours’ privacy and provide good solar access,” explains architect Madeleine Blanchfield. “They provide optional visual and acoustic separation between rooms while maintaining visual connection and view sharing.”

The structure comprises large spans, minimal thicknesses and complex connections. In a bid to keep construction costs down, the budget-friendly design uses equitone screens, a rendered concrete frame and simple detailing.

An awning level separates the upper and lower forms. The lower-level ceiling maintains a consistent height as the floor drops away to the rear garden to increase the sense of volume. Boosting this spatial mirage and minimising perceived steepness is the layering of open glass spaces.

“Double-height voids and extreme ceiling heights, along with operable perforated timber screens and sheer curtains, extend the idea of volume and lightness while creating privacy and containment,” says Madeleine. “The timber screens throw beautiful, changing shadows and are a strong feature internally and externally.”

The interior design takes advantage of a pared-back material palette and dulcet tones. Textured finishes like rough-cut stone and irregularly laid, white-painted brickwork add richness to the simple palette.

Dealing with charming chunks of rock every day meant the owners could showcase some custom terrazzo slabs they’d been eyeing for a while.

“The slabs were perfected over 12 months of repetitive sampling and then shipped over and laid with joints set out to align to columns and windows,” notes Madeleine. Marble is the main attraction in the kitchen, the bold space marked by suspended, sculptural marble elements. “The weightiness of the kitchen contrasts with the large, bright volume and makes the space quite sublime,” Madeleine adds.

The main living area enjoys timber windows, high-level glazing, views to the east and a courtyard to the west. Like a giant sun visor, wide eaves protect the glazed areas and fashion a series of outdoor rooms.

Built with longevity in mind, the structure is designed to achieve optimal solar orientation, thermal mass, sun shading and cross ventilation. Rainwater tanks, solar panels, hydronic heating, low-energy fittings and the absence of air conditioning all support energy efficiency.

From custom-made floors and screens to one-of-a-kind veneer, window colour, doors, handrails and lights, Coogee House II is a bespoke beauty and an example of complete cohesion between architecture and interiors. Ingenious use of space, light and materials, especially the double-height voids and extreme ceiling heights, combine to form a home that feels larger than it should and more welcoming than ever expected.

Originally from Grand Designs Australia Volume 8 Issue 3