A family home on a sloping site overlooking Sydney Harbour utters the word ‘retreat’ with resounding clarity.
Sydney-based architecture and interior design studio ALWILL have designed a Northern Beaches home to the same tune as its tranquil surroundings. The brief was to design a place of refuge; somewhere the family could savour the present moment and feel unequivocally connected to nature.
The upstairs living room, which looks out onto the harbour, features two Moroso Smock chairs. The material palette is inspired by nature: forest greens, unpolished bronzes, muted greys and natural timbers.
The Cove House journey begins with a central double-height void where a timber staircase hugs a concrete wall and light filters in from every angle. The staircase takes you up to the central space in the home, where many treasured moments are yet to take place. This includes the kitchen, dining and main living room, overlooking the glistening harbour. The downstairs rumpus and terrace are much the same in that they nurture a deep connection to both family and the landscape. The second level is where the bedrooms and bathrooms lie, and where the family can go to find sanctuary.
Underscoring all of these spaces is a sense of ritual. It’s the passage of time – day turning to night, summer turning to winter – that defines one’s experience of the home. “It’s about creating delight in the small moments,” principal architect Nadine Alwill says; the sun hitting the concrete in the morning, for instance, or the glint of the ocean at sunset. “Light and nature, and the way they change throughout each day and season, can play a huge part in our daily routine,” Nadine says, “we wanted to capture that.”
The pantry is concealed behind bi-fold doors clad in grey ironbark and Australian timber. Local metal artisan Brian Martin crafted the island bench out of aged bronze.
Like all ALWILL projects, Cove House’s built elements take cues from the natural elements, particularly with relation to colours and materials. Inside, forest greens, unpolished bronzes and muted greys bolster recurrent natural timbers. Outside, powerful concrete volumes appear to fold into and rise out of the flanking bushland. Opportunely, the site’s unique urban location created the pretence of being somewhere much more rural and secluded, which the home takes full advantage of by framing views of the landscape throughout. The key to facilitating this exchange – between inside and outside – was landscape architecture practice Dangar Baran Smith, who have fashioned a soft, textural palette for the surrounding garden.
The built and the natural are more or less interchangeable in the Cove House, designed to age and patina with grace as the family that lives there forms everlasting memories.