Drawn From The Landscape – Palm Beach Blue by Benn + Penna Architecture and Newmark Constructions

Words by Rose Onans
Photography by Tom Ferguson
Video by Cheer Squad

Perched on the side of a hill with exceptional views of Sydney’s Pittwater, Palm Beach Blue by Benn + Penna Architecture is designed to enhance the experience of the view and landscape while also introducing a layered and playful design language to the home.

“The brief was to create an atmosphere that had that holiday feel to it,” says director Andrew Benn. “When people arrive there’s a sense of occasion and almost a celebration of being on holiday.” The unique site, with its layers of rock, steep gradient and awe-inspiring views informed the design from the outset. “There’s a stone escarpment that sits to the north of the house that was built in the 1940s. It’s got this beautiful weathered nature that almost blends into the hill and it’s got these beautiful lines in it that arch and curve around the headland and some of the geometries of that original terrace then informed how we designed the geometries of the new house,” he explains.

These motifs are found throughout the project at various scales, from the joinery to the form roof form. “There [are] these little nips and tucks that give it that very landscape-like character,” Andrew says. In this way, while the design is a response to the view, it goes further by adding playful layers of interest and intrigue. Elements of detail reveal themselves gradually, creating a sense that the home unfolds as one moves through it. “When the kids come up here, they really take to that environment, it’s that incredibly playful, multilayered experience,” Andrew says. One such element, in particular, is a kaleidoscopic mirrored window that both amplifies and alters the view. “You get this quite mesmerising sensation of really not knowing what you’re quite looking at, at first.”

The steep site, while offering truly remarkable views, also presented a number of challenges, especially in the construction process. “We had to really be careful about choosing the right builder,” Andrew says. “It was an incredible experience, [Newmark Constructions] did a tremendous job on such a difficult site.” Mark Newman, founder and managing director of Newmark Constructions, explains that “it’s a pretty exposed site, there’s a 270-degree view of the water [but] with that magnificent view comes to the exposure to the wind and the elements.” Everything had to be carried up the hill either by hand or with a crane, “but all that considered, we still managed to finish in the timeframe that we set out from,” Mark says. “I find it very efficient to have the same process run on every project, so while every project’s different, they all have the same process that they go through. It gives each person that’s involved with the project the ability to come in and see what is happening, where it’s up to and then step back away – it’s all connected together in an organised way.”

Ultimately, it was the collaborative working relationship between architect and builder ensures the project’s rewards were even greater than its challenges. As a result, it was “an absolute pleasure and honour to work on,” Andrew says.

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