In the Sydney suburb and surf refuge of Tamarama, most houses are built on the steep hillsides that surround the beach. One of these is Tama’s Tee House—a streamlined, contemporary residence built upon the solid, reusable foundations of a tired, existing property constructed sometime in the ’70s or ’80s.
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About half of the original structure of the old house was used in the creation of this sleek, 3,215-square-foot family residence.
Designed by Sydney studio Luigi Rosselli Architects, the house is so named because the most significant alteration is its concrete "T" structure, which was created to allow the support the weight of the new construction: all alterations and additions rest on the single point of the existing garage structure beneath it.
To the back of the site is a rear courtyard that’s surrounded on three sides by bedrooms, with the study and the TV lounge of the main living area on its fourth side.
The master bedroom is located on the fourth floor, and the rumpus room and guest rooms are located on the second level, which opens out onto a small garden with a plunge pool.
Concrete is the predominant material used in the construction, but the architects gave the concrete a more weathered appearance by mixing and off-white cement into the concrete to give it a more luminous color. Colorbond Custom Blue Orb metal—a material common to Australian homes—was used for the roof.
The hillside location of the house presents breathtaking views towards the ocean, so the architects located the main living, dining, and entertaining area on the third level, and in front of the house.
The existing interior spaces were completely redesigned to make them brighter, more modern, and functional.
Grooved plywood was used for the ceilings. In the living room, dining room, and kitchen, the brilliant white wooden beams were left exposed as a reference to traditional beach and surf shacks in the area.
"All these features reference the traditional idea of a beach house, and yet at the same time provide robust, contemporary interpretations," says the studio’s founder Luigi Rosselli.
The interiors were softened and warmed up with strongly grained timber formwork, and CNC-routed marine ply shutters with horizontal louvers.
"The most challenging aspect of the project was working with the existing structure. In comparison with the house that was originally on the site, Tama’s Tee House looks like a completely new build, despite the fact that we retained over 50 percent of the original structures, including the street level garage, the retaining wall, and a number of internal walls in the house," says Rosselli.
Due to the size constraints of the site, the connections between the indoor and outdoor spaces are particularly strong. The garden and terrace spaces are room-like in their scale, and oriented so they are protected from the elements.
This living areas are connected to a sheltered terrace, where the family can enjoy sea views while remaining protected from the strong breezes.