On a steep and narrow site overlooking Sydney’s Whale Beach, Studio Johnston have built a multi-storey, multi-generational home from the ground up, with each level denoting a different facet of family life.
A couple with adult children and young grandchildren commissioned Sydney-based architecture and interior design practice Studio Johnston to realise their long-term aspiration of an all-accommodating ‘family HQ’. The home is pinned to a steep, south-facing site on Sydney’s Northern Beaches Peninsula, anchored by the bushland as it frames uninterrupted ocean views.
With their growing family, the clients wanted the opportunity to bring everyone together under one roof without feeling like they were on top of each other. Ironically, the solution was to literally layer the different streams of family life on top of one another. On the first tier, there are the guest bedrooms, bathrooms and kids’ play area; on the second, there’s the kitchen, dining, living and outdoor entertaining area (including an elevated pool and spa); and on the third, there’s the master bedroom and ensuite, study and private outdoor terrace. The result is a home where the clients can feel comfortable with any number of guests in the house, whether that’s just the two of them or the whole family.
“Given the site’s tectonics, we had to work the plan rigorously to make the outdoor connections viable,” Studio Johnston director Conrad Johnston says. The lofty structure hugs the hillside, with easy passage to the beach and a sophisticated approach to the coastal climate. Provisions are in place to mitigate hostile southerly winds, operable windows and doors deliver natural cross-ventilation, and solar access remains a key consideration throughout. Structurally, the broad outdoor terrace on the second level called for shifting geometries across the first and third levels and a strong foundation on the ground level (where the garage is located).
This project entailed a complete interior fit-out (also led by Studio Johnston), with the brief citing a “calming space with splashes of colour” to accompany the client’s architectural vision. The home’s material palette does not fall far from its imperturbable surroundings; aged brass, pistachio green tiles, silver and white marble, light oak and pale grey limestone. Pops of colour – mustard yellow, marine blue, kelp green and cherry red – offer brief but necessary moments of intensity.
Whale Beach House is destined to become the site of many family milestones, memories, and endless summers by the sea.