When a family of four offers a narrow footprint and a brief for a substantial home, architects get nervous. Not only did Tzannes take a difficult site and build a home of scale and amenity, they managed to turn the challenge into a shortlisted spot at the World Architecture Awards.
Point Piper Residence is one of four Australian residential projects to have received a nomination for the prestigious annual awards. But Tzannes’ initial ambition was more modest than that: to make the most of a challenging, south-west-facing site on Sydney Harbour, and to do justice to such deep views with a comparatively modest site area.
The site, which sits in a developed residential area of Sydney’s Point Piper, is long and narrow, with a significant fall towards the water. It is south-west oriented, but overshadowed by houses and apartment buildings to the north, south and east.
This context formed the foundation for Tzannes’ design approach. Working from orientation, it was clear that only the westernmost rooms had access to harbour views, while rooms to the east had the best access to northern light. It was only logical, then, to place major living areas towards the view-endowed west. So as not to sell the rest of the residence short, Tzannes conceived of tapered façade, tucked in on either side, that has the effect of “folding” water views deep into the house. These unorthodox angles also serve to maximise the family’s privacy.
With such a location, it would be a waste not to dedicate a substantial amount of space to outdoor areas. Although the street-facing façade is enclosed with a palette of substantial and contextually sensitive materials such as sandstone, concrete and copper, the façade that overlooks the harbour has been fitted with a double-height balcony, complete with operable blinds.
The double-height ceilings continues through to the interior, with a library placed to the east of the Point Piper Residence. As well as uniting the home’s four storeys via an internal stairway, the double-height library draws westerly sunlight deep into the building.
“The architectural character of the house transitions from east to west, from public and private to open and expansive,” says Tzannes in a design statement. “The library serves as a ‘hall’ in the manner of a traditional manor house, and with stairway, unites the four levels of the house as the building steps down the hillside towards the harbour. The street façade is closed and made of substantial, traditional materials such as sandstone, concrete and copper, while the western façade takes advantage of the structural possibilities and expression of concrete and steel to open up to the spectacular view.”