Inside a Sydney Home That Defies Convention

  • We explore an unlikely architectural union; a 19th-century fisherman’s cottage and an off-form concrete tower nestled against a sandstone cliff edge.

    Sydney’s rugged sandstone cliffs, as spectacular as they are, present a unique challenge to those looking to live by the water. While most opt for cliff-top, cliff-side offers the chance to fully immerse oneself in a site’s beauty. One family looking for a permanent post on the harbour decided to embrace the latter, landing on a rather unusual site where an old fisherman’s cottage lay. As existing clients, Studio Prineas took on the challenge, seeing it as an opportunity to celebrate something old by connecting it with something new. 

    “The homeowners knew that achieving their forever home on this unusual but incredible site would take some inspired thinking,” Studio Prineas principal architect Eva-Marie Prineas says. And so, the idea to construct an off-form concrete tower, which would integrate with the existing weatherboard cottage and hug the side of the cliff, came about.

    Produced in partnership with Gaggenau

    Fisherman’s House is built on the land of the Wangal and Birrabirrigal People of the Eora Nation.

    The Structure

    From street level, only the home’s lift overrun is visible, fostering a quality of allure and mystery. “The tower’s verticality navigates the site’s dramatic drop and facilitates an experiential journey through the site,” Eva-Marie explains. Studio Prineas worked closely with Bushy Landscapes to ‘green’ the concrete mass with indigenous flora – to allow nature to reclaim the site over time. “We wanted the building to give back to the harbour and embrace connections with the landscape.”

    The First Layer

    As one descends the site, they first come to an open plan living, dining and kitchen area, which enjoys sweeping views of the harbour. A blackened steel framework pays homage to the cottage’s original structure while cleverly dividing the open spaces. The level opens onto a large deck where the family can gather and take in their spectacular surroundings.

    The open plan living, dining and kitchen area enjoys sweeping views of the harbour. The living space space features the B&B Italia Camaleonda armchair, Muuto Outline sofa, Artek armchair 42, Kalmar Werkstätten Dornstab floor light and Classicon Bell side table. The kitchen features the Great Dane Hof bar stool and Gaggenau appliances.

    Space Spotlight: The Kitchen

    The Fisherman’s kitchen perfectly captures Studio Prineas’ intent to create an alluring yet functional family home. Smoked oak timber veneer is paired with space-grey Fenix NTM, an innovative opaque material designed for interior surfaces. The richness of these two materials imparts a strong sense of effortless sophistication. Gaggenau appliances enhance this experience, cleverly integrated into the kitchen’s bespoke cabinetry. The left side of the kitchen features the 200 Series microwave and 200 Series fully automatic espresso machine, while the right side features two ovens, all of which are finished in striking anthracite to match the bench tops. In the centre of the kitchen lies the 400 Series vario fridge-freezer combination.

    Gaggenau senior brand communications manager Olya Yemchenko says the kitchen is an outstanding example of integrating Gaggenau appliances in a smart and visually-appealing way while also ensuring their functionality remains the focus. “The Gaggenau Kitchen of the Year Design Contest highlights projects such as these that embody design authenticity and originality, while simultaneously putting performance and end-user considerations front of mind,” Olya says.

    The Design Resolution

    Like the kitchen, other areas of the home have been flexibly designed to maximise functionality and accommodate the family’s changing needs, all the while maintaining their visual appeal. In the primary bedroom, for instance, a bedhead made of striking green Tinos Verde marble doubles as a bathtub, and behind it, a mirrored wall fixed with two sinks creates an illusion of depth. Here, and all throughout, the home’s concrete fabric is left on display and combined with various natural timbers, as well as more tactile materials like velvet and leather.

    Submissions for the Gaggenau Kitchen of the Year Design Contest 2023 are open until April 30, with winners shortlisted in July and announced in September. For more information or to submit your project, visit the official Awards’ website.

    Behind a leather-clad sliding wall lies the Mobel Copenhagen Angel bar stool.

    “The homeowners knew that achieving their forever home on this unusual but incredible site would take some inspired thinking…”


    – Studio Prineas Principal Architect Eva-Marie Prineas

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