Taken to the Tropics

Taken to the Tropics


Some resourceful design work gave this amazing home a new lease on life — and a view of the sea
Words by Helen Frost Photography

Seeing this stunning home, one is immediately taken in by the inviting sub-tropical design. But for the owners, reaching this stage was no mean feat.
After discovering wood rot within the framework of their home, they knew they had a renovation pending: “The whole experience was exciting and intimidating in one breath. Our old house was starting to come apart at the seams!

“Without our architect, Emile Jensen, to lend the guiding force, the building process may have become much more harrowing with the multitude of decisions we had to make.”

Designed in the late 1960s, the original place was an architecturally designed one-storey timber dwelling set around 500mm above the ground on dwarf brick walls.

“We discovered extensive dry rot in wall support plates during the initial construction activities,” explains Jensen. “Effectively, the whole house had to be demolished and a new house built.

“The floorplan remained as it was, however, as the prospect of redesign and a new DA was too daunting. Thus the ‘ghost’ of the original house is still visible in room sizes and layouts.”

A number of challenges stood in the way as the site is a reclaimed lagoon and had been flooded several times in the past due to heavy rain and king tides. Emile rose to the task and devised a solution.

“A revised DA was prepared showing the existing house raised by 1.5 metres,” says Jensen. “This measure would allow one-in-100-year flood waters to pass under the home.

“Being an old lagoon, we had to do technical re-profiling of the site to allow it to bear the weight of the home. This involved excavating the overburden down about 700mm to a layer of acid sulphate soil, which couldn’t be disturbed, and installing 200mm-thick layers of compacted crushed rock.”

One of the design briefs was to include passive environmental attributes. Emile saw an opportunity to increase the eco attributes of the home and installed water tanks under the raised floor. The house can now ‘live’ out of the tanks.

“The water supply from our own tanks is wonderful and fresh thanks to the filtering,” says the owner. “Another plus is the garden will blossom thanks to the recycling water system as it continues to grow.”

Situated on a magnificent seaside location, this home now reflects its surroundings. Timber blends with natural materials to ensure the façade stands out from the rest with its sub-tropical vibe.

“The views from the windows are fantastic. Amazingly, despite our usual suburban block issues we can now see trees, hills and even the sea. Before the renovation we were the lower house between others and so only looked out onto buildings. Now we are higher, the sun and air flow in.”

For this grown-up family it was vital to incorporate separate living areas into the design. Now the young adults of the home have their own areas and the parents can enjoy their peace and quiet.

“We love the extra freedom the larger spaces give us,” adds the owner. “Our children, young adults in their own right, can now have friends over without disturbing the rest of the family and all of us can help prepare in the kitchen without bumping into each other.”

Bare feet and board shorts — that’s the feeling Jensen created in this design. Think sand between your toes, the sun in your face and a breeze in your hair. This home features glittering water views and soft vegetation lies close to the house, separated only by the drip line of the roof.

“Moonrise, sunrise, sunset and starlight: I wanted to make a setting where these are normal, visible and appreciable and to make it for clients who love such things is a deep satisfaction,” says Jensen. “Each day the owners find different design elements they appreciate in their new home.”

The project was designed by Emile Jensen of Pittwater Style Design + Architecture, Shop 2/1 Hilltop Road Avalon, NSW
Ph: 02 9918 7800; email: emile@pittwaterstyle.com.au or go to pittwaterstyle.com.au
The project was built by Granvista Enterprises
Ph: 0408 423 623

Kitchen, dining, living and bedroom: Polished grey ironbark hardwood
Outdoor: Sikkens stained treated pine decking
Other: Calca granite tiles

Kitchen, dining, living, bedroom, stair: Painted plasterboard
Outdoor: Murowash painted Eco-ply
Other: Stained western red cedar shiplap

Benchtop: Calca granite
Splashback: Painted plasterboard
Cabinetry: Silver ash veneer

‘Moonrise, sunrise, sunset and starlight: I wanted to make a setting where these are normal, visible and appreciable and to make it for clients who love such things is a deep satisfaction. Each day the owners find different design elements they appreciate in their new home’.