WMK has totally transformed this quintessential 1970’s clinker brick mission brown house in to a striking innovative contemporary home.

Before, were low-brough ceilings, shag pile carpet, lemon yellow kitchen, no insulation and cold winter drafts.

After, is a reconfigured floor layout that captures the views, innovative adaptable living spaces, quality finishes, natural heat stack ventilation and cooling, additional insulation and double glazing, solar panels to generate electricity and rainwater tanks for water re-use.

All utilising the existing building infrastructure and re-using existing materials adding up to a stunning new built form and contemporary living environment. 

An Architecture of Spaces

Rather than traditional rooms, hallways and doors, this new home consists of a series of interconnected spaces accessed by a central atrium stairway.

The open plan living area on the mid-level incorporates the natural stone feature bench kitchen and dining spaces that spill out to a large timber finished balcony through huge sliding glass doors blurring the line between indoors and outdoors. 

This living zone is coupled with an intimate family living space via full height recessed sliding doors providing the opportunity for full open plan living or an enclosed space for watching the TV or playing the piano.


The lower level provides a spacious entry vestibule opening into a study via a large sliding doorway which features full height glazing to the harbour views.

The upper bedroom zone integrates a large Master Bedroom space defined by a highlight roof element that folds up to capture the Northern sun and a full height sliding wall that can be open to create a sun-drenched day living space or be closed for privacy and sleep.

Bedrooms two and three are accessed via a semi-open walk way and feature full height glazing to the views.

Central Connection and Convection

All levels of the home are connected vertically by a spectacular central atrium and stairway.

As well as providing a physical and visual connection through the house and to the outdoors, the central atrium acts as a heat stack chimney to allow the warm summer air to rise from all levels and be expelled through the raised folded roof element and Northern openable glazing.

Combined with operable external blade louvres and blinds, this natural convection cooling helps to cool the home and minimise the use of air conditioning in summer and the atrium captures the warm winter sun to minimise the use of heating in the cooler months. 

Outside In

The inside of the house is really about the outside.

With three storey “cathedral” glazing to the atrium, huge full height double glazed windows and sliding doors to the views and strategically placed slot windows and picture windows throughout; the water views, tree canopies and bush gardens all become part of the interior experience.

The paired-back interior materials are designed to enhance the external influences and include turpentine timber floors and stairways, highly grained white, grey and brown natural stone kitchen and feature benches; deep grey natural stone bathroom floors; and, a three storey feature “blocked” wall that defines the atrium all enveloped in subtle off-white coloured plasterboard walls and ceilings.

The Form of Boxes

The architectural form of the building is defined by four volumetric rectangular boxes linked by central balcony elements and floating folded highlight roof.

These box forms follow the function of the spaces they accommodate and are articulated by alucobond panel wraps with full height glazing to the ends of the boxes protected by operable horizontal louvres.

The colour palette of charcoal, grey and warm off-white with natural timber highlights reflect and enhance the natural indigenous bush setting, the exposed rock faces of the 30 degree sloping site, the broad tree trunks’ of the canopy setting and the harbour side water surrounds. 

Tove to the adage 'form follows function', the open plan kitchen space is defined by a bold cedar batten ceiling that follows the form of one of the architectural “boxes” that define the overall architecture of the dwelling.

This home truly responds to its context - reflecting the textures and colours of its environment and inviting this environment 'inside'. 

Clever re-use of the Existing - and Sustainable

This is not a completely new house.

The existing infrastructure was cleverly re-used and adapted to save time, money and resources.

The existing lower level and first floor framing, the existing footings, all the brick walls, the rear bathroom and laundry structure and the sewer and stormwater infrastructure were all re-used. Timber framing removed from the existing house was also re-used in the new construction.

As well as re-using the existing, other clever sustainable design features include the central natural convection heat stack; the use of photovoltaic solar panels to generate electricity; rainwater tanks to collect water for re-use; double glazing; additional wall, floor and ceiling insulation; operable louvre windows for natural cross ventilation; adjustable louvre and blind window protection and passive solar design sun-shading over hangs.

The existing carport and external stairways were all retained and refurbished with a new off- form reinforced concrete planter “stitched” on to the front of the carport to create a new visual appearance and collect roof rainwater run-off.

A Stunning Result

The outcome is a truly contemporary and innovative new home with flexible and adaptable living spaces and highly sustainable design features that sits confidently in its urban bush setting and maximises views to the harbour and tree canopies.

What is very clever is that this is not a completely new house.

And certainly this is a story of the ugly duckling being completely transformed to a thing of beauty. 

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