A Coastal Family Home - Headland House by Clayton Orszaczky
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Set on Sydney’s lower north shore, Headland House sees Clayton Orszaczky create a reverential response to the coastal context.
The clients requested a large family home that would evoke warmth, make the most of the site’s views and deliver practical family living. The architects explain that “the young family wanted us to assemble a simple house that was easy to live in, with details and materials they loved, while at the same time to capture the mesmerising views of one of Sydney’s unique harbor beaches.”
Behind Clayton Orszaczky are architects Rebekah Clayton and Michelle Orszaczky. Throughout the journey of their respective careers, “it seemed a natural fit to come together and support each other, therefore, we began Clayton Orszaczky in 2015,” says Michelle. Both Rebekah and Michelle take a highly personable approach to their work, driven by a broader disposition to engage on a personal level and continuously spend a great deal of time working on a brief with a client. “Our design ideas reflect the client’s hopes and aspirations for their home. We both love the craft of architecture, and we structure our practice so that we are involved at every level of the design process.”
“The young family wanted us to assemble a simple house that was easy to live in, with details and materials that they loved.”
Collectively, Rebekah and Michelle describe their design philosophy as emphasising the importance of how the simple yet unique elements of place, light, site features, and vegetation influence the overall architectural scope in residential design. At the same time, they work to consider a connection with the garden and landscape during the design process. For both architects, “siting a building well is the starting place for everything.”
Both Rebekah and Michelle leave no stone unturned when it comes to the development of a project. Clayton Orszaczky envisions a project from the client’s perspective and illustrates how the client would foresee themselves as living in a space. Consequently, they begin a process to craft something beautiful with a guiding design principle. “For us, it’s about creating a lovely and timeless setting for our client’s life. We consider the whole concept and the smallest part or detail,” they say.
“Our design ideas reflect the client’s hopes and aspirations for their home.”
Acknowledged through this lens, Headland House is a prime example of how a design philosophy and relationship with the clients can combine to create a warm family home that responds sensitively to the brief, harnessing views while maintaining privacy. “The discrete, private, and street presence of this house is a disguise for the open-living spaces at the rear of the home, all in which are designed around the captivating views and respond to the brief,” Michelle and Rebekah explain.
Key to the design was the selected palette of materials, which was driven by the client’s desire for detail “with quality materials that can develop a robust family life.” Crisp white weatherboard cladding is coupled with the warmth of silvered hardwood screening elements, while the simplest of roof forms, two Colorbond classic skillion structures sloping in opposite directions, and steel details are utilised to support screening elements. As one enters the home, concrete floors follow the path, which complements the warmth of the timber and breaks away from the refreshing white. The materials’ most significant impact is in passive thermal design, making makes spaces comfortable to inhabit. “Great materials are available to enhance the passive thermal design. Primarily a timber home is always lower in embodied energy,” the architects say.
“For us, it’s about creating a lovely and timeless setting for our client’s life. We consider the whole concept and the smallest part or detail.”
Various challenges arose during the design process. The main hurdle was to work with the existing site levels as the foundation was much lower than the street. To harness the view potential, the eye-line needed to be raised, which was resolved by bridging the entry to elevate living levels. Meanwhile, the potential building envelope, set by the adjacent homes, had its challenges too. Headland House was close to the street and to get the most from the site the design had to accord with the street edge and interface within the key architectural idea, which was the driver for the detailed screening element custom made by Cranbrook Workshop.
Headland House is a robust illustration of Clayton Orzsaczky’s approach of working closely with the clients from the outset until the completion to achieve the proposed design brief. Through collaboration, a private yet open, light-filled home has come into being.