Sea change, in style

Sea change, in style


Just an hour out of the Sydney CBD, these apartments offer inner-city escapists the best of both worlds.


The coastal town of Bundeena is one of those precious meeting points of luscious Australian bushland and sweeping Pacific Ocean. Although right on Sydney’s doorstep, the area has retained its intimate and undeveloped charm. It is a location that Tony Owen Partners revered for its majestic land and seascapes and, in the planning of the Elandra Beach Houses, recognised as the perfect holiday location.

Working with the locals, the architects undertook to develop a series of 15 intimate, stylish beach houses, all set back among pristine native flora of the Royal National Park and all positioned high enough to enjoy stunning views across Port Hacking and Hastings Beach. “At the time, locals were keen to maintain the laid-back character and scale of the area,” a representative from Tony Owen Partners said. Indeed, the original proposal for the masterplan of the site was contentious, but the final development stays true to the relaxed personality of the surrounding environment and local township. From the outside, the houses are modest: timber boxes perched atop smooth white portals that layer back into the naturally receding hillside.

Nevertheless, the structural composition, whereby the house’s angular lines and steel frames cantilever over and behind each other, achieves a stately kind of balance. The bushland perimeters to each house, consisting largely of Banksia and Melaleuca trees, appear to be largely untouched. Landscapers Context Designs applied a raw and unmanicured approach to the gardens, achieving a seamless sense of space while reinforcing the land’s humble character as a former camping ground. Simple sustainable principles are carried through from the structural balance of the building and garden to the apartment interiors. The top floor is the main living area and it is awash with light and space, granted by its east-west aspect and consequent exposure to the northern sun. The lower-level bedrooms, on the other hand, can enjoy the quiet solitude afforded by a north-south orientation.

The interior is characterised by clean lines softened by luxurious fabrics. “Tony Owen Partners sought to create a stylish lifestyle,” we have been told, “but at the same time the houses are clad in timber and natural materials so that they fit into the natural landscape.” A mix of surface finishes in this spacious home also serve to soften the apartment’s interior, in turn complementing the dynamic bushland beyond that has been so eloquently framed by floor-to-ceiling glass windows. A packed stonewall about the fireplace, for example, lends a textural and tactile depth to the upper living room, one that is again achieved by a wonderful golden floor rug.

The apartments are also furnished with impressive artworks that pick up the hues of the timber floorboards, the gold in the cushion furnishings and the grey and yellow-greens of the garden. But to add to the aesthetic appeal, Tony Owen Partners paid close attention to reducing each apartment’s environmental footprint. In addition to employing a passive solar design by the structural orientation, Tony Owen Partners was also preoccupied with maximising water collection off the roof into water tanks.

As a final environmental flourish, Tony Owen Partners designed all of the apartment’s plumbing to rely on recycled water. Stepping back and viewing the complete package, it is clear that in this series of holiday homes, Tony Owen Partners has made a temporary sea change to Bundeena almost irresistible for, at the very least, the inner-citydwelling professional. The idea, after all, was to provide sophisticated, stylish living in a not-soremote paradise, and in light of contemporary living arrangements that continually battle population and housing density rises, rapidly changing networks, not to mention unpredictable climate conditions, at least one thing will remain the same: the promise of comfort and style at this beautifully designed holiday haven.

Tony Owen Partners,
Level 2 12-16 Queen St, Chippendale NSW 2008.
02 9698 2900