An Arresting Australian Abode by Glenn Murcutt Needs a Buyer

An Arresting Australian Abode by Glenn Murcutt Needs a Buyer

By Melissa Dalton
Nestled against a sandstone rock face for privacy and clad with blackened zinc to protect against fires, this gorgeous residence outside Sydney is an architectural gem.

To work with Pritzker Prize–winning, Australian architect Glenn Murcutt, you first need to join a waiting list of three to five years. Or, you can skip the line with available real estate such as the Donaldson House, which was completed in September 2016 as a vacation home for a family of five. Located on the Palm Beach Peninsula north of Sydney, the four-bedroom, two-bath residence was designed with great "sensitivity to the landscape, climate, and seasons," in keeping with Murcutt's philosophy to "touch this earth lightly." 

The house sits on a steep site and was positioned below a sandstone crop so as to be concealed from the street. The approach to the house is via a suspended, concrete staircase.

Black, weathered zinc clads the exterior. Angled walls and an opening in the eave preserves the mature trees on the site.

The 1,800-square-foot masterpiece is spread over two levels, with the living areas and principal suite on the upper floor, and three bedrooms, a bath, and laundry on the lower level. 

Being in a high fire-risk area, the house was designed and built to withstand the elements using reinforced concrete foundations, steel roof rafters, toughened glass, and weathered zinc cladding on the exterior. 

In addition to being day-lit by strategic glazing, sustainable features include two water storage tanks beneath the principal bedroom for laundry, bathrooms, and firefighting—as well as solar panels. 

Passageways take advantage of the southern side of the house, so that living areas and bedrooms receive northern sunlight. White walls are satin-finished or bagged brickwork.

The open-plan living area, complete with sealed concrete floors and ceilings lined with hoop pine, looks out on a 366-square-foot veranda and has views towards the natural estuary of Pittwater.

The principal bedroom windows embrace the sandstone rock face. A sloped glass roof shields from rain.

The rock ledge provides natural privacy from the street and ensconces occupants in the site's beauty.

Part of the design brief was to integrate this vibrant tapestry, titled Orion M.C., by Victor Vasarely. "The work of art is naturally lit by the white opal glass roof lights and is viewed through a glass wall from the dining room into the stair well," Murcutt says.

See the listing for 54 Bynya Road, Palm Beach, NSW, 2108 here. The price is available upon request.

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