Vaucluse Bay House


John Richards, of
Tobias Partners

Private Client

We had been looking for some time for a block of land with access to the water for lifestyle and water-sports. When we opened the front door of the existing house on the first inspection, we felt the immediate connection to Vaucluse Bay and the sparkling green water of the bay. We lived in the house for several years and, once we fully understood the site, the aspect and our future needs, we embarked on our refurbishment project

Our brief to John Richards of Tobias Partners was to create a beach house with a luxurious feeling that would cater to our needs in the later stages of our lives. We wanted a relaxed beach house with a high level of detail, a compact home with step free access to all levels and to take full advantage of the bay and parkland setting. Our inspiration came from many fine houses we’d seen in Australia and abroad.

Our introduction to Bellevarde came courtesy of Tobias Partners. In looking at contemporary examples of buildings we liked, we were very taken by the outstanding job that the team of Bellevarde’s Daniele Feltracco (Project Manager) and John Richards had delivered with Deepwater at Bondi Beach. Once we determined that this partnership would be available, we cranked up the process and moved forward into the detailed design documentation and delivery of our house with Daniele and John at the helm.

The location has only one neighbour, and has sea and parkland on the other two major facades. We are well shielded from the prevailing North-Easterly winds in summer and the South-Westerly winds in winter. Sydney summers and our westerly aspect can be sweltering so significant thought was given into keeping the direct sun off the windows in the afternoons.

Materials were determined by the fact that the house was part existing and part new. We decided on a lightweight structure of a steel frame and timber cladding which was consistent with the luxury beach house theme.

It was an absolute pleasure to work with Bellevarde at every touch point—from the initial contact with John Fielding through to Daniel Feltracco and Tristan Diethelm and Jak Gannon on the job throughout the build process. They were consistently dedicated and hard-working. The best things about working with Bellevarde—they are cool under pressure, very thoughtful and professional and they always followed through. Whatever they said they would do, they did.

We are delighted with the finished house. Having lived in it for six months now, we are thrilled with the quality on a daily basis. Many neighbours have come by and said how beautiful it is, how well detailed and how it blends so beautifully into the bay.

We would most definitely recommend Bellevarde and are already looking forward to the next opportunity to work with them on a holiday house. It was a lot of fun!

John Richards, of
Tobias Partners

The initial brief was to remove the existing roof and add a master bedroom with level access from the street. Over time, the project evolved and grew into a significant rebuild of the living level and comprehensive refurbishment of the lower ‘podium’ level. It would have been simpler and likely more cost-effective, from a construction perspective, to demolish the existing house and replace it with an entirely new structure. However, due to planning constraints which, based on the site areas, would have limited the approvable size of the new home to substantially less than what already stood, the owners decided to undertake a large scale renovation.

The design of the house orientates open plan living and sleeping areas of the home towards the 180-degree panoramic view, extending from the adjacent park and bay to the harbour, and opens up to them with structure-free spaces and operable glazed facades. An integral part of the design brief was to visually and experientially connect the home to these serene and picturesque surroundings, whilst achieving ample surfaces and opportunities to display the owners’ expansive collection of artworks and sculptures.

A considerable number of hours were spent, in particular by Tobias Partners’ Kyle Reid and Bellevarde’s Daniele Feltracco, in developing the highly complex network of structural steel and timber framing required to achieve the large, predominantly support-free, open plan living spaces. Kyle and Daniele also spent many hours weaving the hydraulic and mechanical services through networks of structure, all concealed within a compressed floor zone.

Of the many charming aspects of the home, one of our favourites is the double height entry pavilion. It is flanked on one side by a full height glazed wall opening onto an ornamental courtyard. The courtyard provides a curated landscaped foreground view to the park from the pavilion, the dining room and the study. On the other side of the entry pavilion, its main staircase and a bridge to the sleeping areas allow double height surfaces for the display of large artworks and sculptures. We are also very pleased with the elevated planters that introduce a curated landscaped foreground to the view of the park, bay and harbour from the upper level sleeping areas and study.

Bellevarde’s John Fielding and Daniele Feltracco have a passion for architecture and respect for the design process. John’s dedication to perfection fosters a culture of high quality tradespeople within the organisation and ongoing relationships with uniquely skilled subcontractors. Daniele brings great attention to detail and a collaborative approach to working through complex design challenges in order to realise bespoke architectural details. There is a lot less left to interpretation, with key design decisions pre-empted and potential detail issues foreseen—like having a second set of eyes permanently on site throughout the project. The benefit of having Bellevarde as part of a project’s design development team, as well as leading its execution, is most eloquently expressed in our eagerness to work with them again. Tobias Partners are excited to now have embarked on yet another new house project with Bellevarde in Woollahra.

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