By Sally Rutherford
Styling Sven Alberding
Photography Greg Cox
Located on a steeply sloping waterfront block, facing a tranquil tidal beach, a flotilla of boats and the vast expanse of Pittwater, this home is designed to allow nature to lead – offering maximum seclusion and connection to its surrounds and outlook.
Newport House is the third family home designed by Koichi Takada Architects for high-profile repeat clients seeking absolute privacy and resort-style luxury on Sydney’s northern peninsular.
The clients’ brief was for a house offering sanctuary. A place simultaneously for quiet retreat, and frequent entertaining. A refuge away from the public eye, without being isolated or reclusive. It must reflect the owners’ love of the outdoors, an openness of space and beach lifestyle, offering constant opportunities to connect with nature. To fully experience the site’s glorious changing light through the hours, days and seasons, its shifting winds and breezes, calming ebb and flow of the lapping waves below, and the views beyond.
With this extraordinary natural beauty came a series of topographical challenges. The west-facing, 3000 m2 site sat in an environmental zone, dropped more than 20 metres from street to beach – testing design, access, and construction – and was flanked by neighbouring properties presenting privacy issues. And, it featured two existing, majestic 30 metre high eucalyptuses needing to be retained and protected.
In response, and inspired by the site’s unbroken tranquillity, Koichi designed a fluidly terraced, fourlevel building progressively stretched and stepped north-westward as it tumbled water-wards with the site.
To increase the owners’ privacy, heighten the sense of procession, anticipation and arrival, and help dissolve the building’s scale and mass, it was centrally positioned at the foot of a sloping, sinuous driveway. As a result, first impressions at entry level are of a simple, elegant, single storey building sitting quietly under the tree top canopy, as one with nature. From the water, again the building is designed to dissolve and retreat, with upper levels recessed from view.
Plantings and pebbles on the building’s roof scape, retention of the existing eucalypts, and introduction of new mature trees enhance the perception of a home already nestling unobtrusively back into its setting.
Internally, this concept is continued with the incorporation of vegetated courtyards on all levels. Working with and respecting the site’s natural ground levels, Koichi created a series of artificial rock or floating platforms – presenting as a sequence of cantilevered, fine concrete slabs floating above a recessed stackstone-clad podium. Maximising this sense of levitation, slabs were elegantly tapered to a finer point water-wards, with the living/dining area in particular designed to appear as a floating box. In a nod to tropical living, these cantilevered spaces were wrapped in fully retractable floor to ceiling glazing, placed across the façade for maximise ‘invisibility’, allowing the house to be opened completely in all weathers – and its occupants to truly celebrate nature in every element.
Externally, 4.5 metre long floating horizontal timber-look aluminium privacy screens were tensioned and suspended off both north and south elevations - allowing light and ventilation in, prying eyes out, and optimising the sense of space internally. Internally, spaces have been carefully programmed for optimum flow, light, ventilation, connection (physical, psychological and emotional), for views through views, and to create a sense of immediate, lasting peace. Rigorously engineered to achieve the biggest spans possible, minimising columns, framing and any other visual obstructions, all internal spaces boast an openness, simplicity of line and form, and resultant serenity.
Large floor to ceiling internal sliding doors, floor to ceiling glazing, skylights, and dramatically oversized cantilevered balconies are used to effortlessly connect occupants with each other and with their surroundings, outlook and nature. Glorious framed and panoramic views of Church Point, Scotland Island, Pittwater, and/or the bush are on display from every room. To draw light in, skylights and internal openings were positioned throughout, creating the sense of natural daylight in all areas. Breaking down the building’s large 1600m2 footprint, spaces were programmed as inviting ‘pockets’ over four main levels, creating a sense of intimacy and warmth in even the largest open-plan. Appreciating the psychological impact and beauty of early morning light, four bedrooms were positioned on the upper entry level, with light drawn from the rooftop - offering guests the joyous warmth and feel of early sunlight across a floor and space.
Similarly, eastern light was drawn down into the second level, a floor dedicated to the owners’ luxury suite – a large bedroom, ensuite and luxurious 22 metre ‘Sex In The City’-style walk-in wardrobe - through a series of skylights and internal openings. An open plan living area, show kitchen and rear functional kitchen occupy the third level, with informal spaces – including a home theatre, bar, gym and casual entertaining spaces – positioned on the fourth floor as you move closer to the beach and relaxed waterside setting.
Overlooking and offering access to the garden, beach and Pittwater a half level below is the resortstyle infinity pool. From front to rear, a simple, muted material palette speaks of Japanese minimalism, harmony with nature and this particular site - evoking a sense of oneness with the world and pervasive tranquillity at every turn.
Particularly inspired by the ‘hues and textures of the area’s ‘sand, bush and water’, the home features creamy, whitish-grey in-situ concrete walls, bleached European Oak and limestone flooring, soft sandstone-coloured stack stone feature walls, and ‘invisible’ floor to ceiling Vitrocsa glass. All materials are meticulously married and detailed to seamlessly connect exterior and interior spaces, to create a seamless organic flow, enhance the perception of space, and, importantly, to speak of the surrounding landscape. Key elements include the sandstone stack-stone feature walls, used internally and externally and dramatically reinforcing the natural nexus while visually anchoring the building to site. Simple lines, form and materials distilled to the essence.