Quiet Achiever: a stunning Gordons Bay Grand Design

Quiet Achiever: a stunning Gordons Bay Grand Design


A custom-made residence at one with the ultra-exclusive suburb of Gordons Bay it calls home

The Sydney suburb of Gordons Bay is somewhat of an oasis, hugged by the iconic beaches of Clovelly and Coogee. There’s only a handful of people who get to enjoy the native environment and pristine waters on a daily basis, and architect Madeleine Blanchfield is the woman who made it all happen for the family of five who live in this home.

Building in such a secluded site is not an operation for the faint-hearted. Dense vegetation and difficult blocks are a challenge to say the least, but waterfront views and living the Australian dream trump temporary obstacles and headaches. The existing residence on the block was demolished to make way for the new build. “The site is very steep, but has amazing views and is on a public foreshore,” says Madeleine. “The owners had a detailed spatial brief, but we developed the look and feel of the house together. They wanted a home where the family could stay forever.”

The body of work comprised six bedrooms, four bathrooms and three living areas spread across two levels. The main consideration was to design a home that was private yet open to the natural environment and flexible enough to move with the family throughout life’s changes. “We started with the idea of a masonry house on a stone base, but ended up cantilevering the house out of the ground to get maximum light, air and views to the lowest level,” says Madeleine. “The house cantilevers out of the hill to the east, with three-storey-high concrete blade walls framing the staircase. The lowest level sits under the cantilevered upper floors and is set back to create a covered terrace.”

Inspiration for the home was largely derived from the site, and materials were selected to complement the natural surroundings. “Off-form concrete was chosen for its durability in the seaside environment,” says Madeleine. “The timber cladding and screens respond to the context of the boats and the bay, weathering naturally and offsetting the robustness of the concrete.” Fuss-free concrete was a no-brainer for the southern walls, floor and roof slabs. “The infill is made from cedar cladding and louvres, which were treated with a preservative stain that can be reapplied. Alternatively, the timber can be left to age naturally.”

Angled cedar blades form a key part of the home’s design, and the entire facade is covered in them. “The angle of the blades changes around the house depending on the view,” says Madeleine. “The blades are grouped together in bays to form big, motorised louvre panels.” The integration of these blades means the home can be opened up or closed off with ease, encouraging a strong relationship with the outdoor environment. From the get-go, the unique design of the home is apparent. A two-storey skylight runs along the length of the middle level and narrow openings were integrated to generate a sense of grandeur and presence when you enter the living spaces. “The house reads as a single storey from the western street side,” says Madeleine. “A generous garden entry contributes to the public realm and a 4m-high glazed front door offers visitors and the public a dramatic view of Gordons Bay through the main staircase and spine of the house.”

This residence is certainly the new kid on the block in the beachside suburb. Combining an earthy palette of concrete and timber, the house is an exercise in balance, combining the best of both worlds — architectural and approachable. “The architecture aims to deliver thoughtful details and spaces,” says Madeleine. “It is a house for living and finding pleasure in the simple things.”

Written by Annabelle Cloros

Originally in Grand Designs Australia Magazine Volume 6 Issue 5