A Conversation With Avalon & Palm Beach Architects

By Jonathan Fletcher

The coastal peninsula of the Upper Northern Beaches lends itself to impressive architect-designed properties, so it’s no wonder Avalon and Palm Beach is home to a number of world-class architects.

With so many homeowners renovating and re-building in the area I thought it would be interesting to chat with three local architects about local projects they have been working on. Here are three questions, with three local architects, plus a comprehensive list of architects in the area.

Matt Power of Sketch Arc

Do you have a favourite project in the area?

I do. Actually I have two! We’ve just finished the ‘Clareville Beach House’ project on Delecta Avenue which was a real highlight. It was such a unique site, right on Clareville Beach. The structure is very minimalistic, with modern straight lines. It looks simple but is actually very hard to achieve. We were able to deliver such a great outcome for the client because of our collaboration with the builders who had a significant impact in the process.

Another project I love is ‘Courtyard Beach House’ on Park Avenue. It’s a very different style to ‘Clareville Beach House’, more of a typical Northern Beaches family home – It’s practical and coastal.

Who is your typical client?

A typical client would be a Northern Beaches family who wants to have a well designed house but also wants it to be practical. My clients vary though and I work with different styles… I like to work with the clients needs and their brief, starting with what they like and want, and then we work from there.

If someone is reading this article looking for an architect why should they call you? 

I’m approachable, experienced (especially with difficult sites), pragmatic and design aware. I have a history with this area and I’m someone who will work with the client on their brief and not push a certain agenda.

Michael Kilkeary of Cadence & Co. 

Do you have a favourite project in the area?

Yes, recently we had two projects ‘Northern Aspect’ and ‘The Gallery’ which sit side by side at Palm Beach on the prime location of Ocean Road. Both were fantastic to work on, the aspect there is amazing, looking directly up the beach and facing straight north. They were both great opportunities to have some fun.

They are big houses in the area so we spent a lot of time thinking through the materials, the palette and the landscaping as we wanted to settle them into the landscape. We used a lot of stone, natural cedars and timbers – the idea being that they would respond and age well with the weather exposure in that location. We also put a lot of effort into substantial landscaping to soften the buildings. 

Style-wise, the two houses are quite different. We wanted them both to have their own identity and were also responding to each client. ‘Northern Aspect’ has textured elements and a more weathered beach palette. For ‘The Gallery’ we pulled back on the weathered element, it’s a little more render bare. 

Who is your typical client? 

We have a broad range of clients and projects. We design and build new houses, but we also work with smaller-scale houses, rooftop additions and alterations. We have a few projects in Palm Beach at the moment ranging in scale including a fun alteration to a Spanish deco house up on the ridge looking both ways to Whale Beach and Palm Beach. We look at each project individually, consider what the client is after, what the various elements are and then bring something unique to the project.

If someone is reading this article looking for an architect why should they call you?

What Cadence & Co. have to offer is a holistic process, from design to construction. We differ from traditional design and construct models in that our design is a bespoke personalised offering. We have the benefit of having the design and construction teams working alongside each other so we’re able to give clients a start to finish process in terms of working with the design team through approval’s and then continuing with Cadence & Co. through the build. We have an interior design team in-house to work with the interior space, quality of space as well as the architecture. We also have a cost estimating team in-house so we can give cost guidance to clients so that when they’ve got their approval and are ready to build they have a product that they are comfortable with budget-wise. 

A very key part of our model is keeping the client and the whole process in line with the budget which is really important for seeing a project through to completion. 

Daniel Raymond of Rama

Do you have a favourite project in the area?

‘Horizon House’ at Bungan Beach was a fantastic collaboration with a wonderful client and a skilful builder. The site and setting on Bungan Headland is stunningly beautiful with panoramic views. High ceilings enhance the sense of space. The expression of the trussed structure and timber detailing creates a textured interior. Natural materials, such as timber and stone give the house a sense of warmth.

The house is fundamentally “functional first” in its planning. Large timber framed glass sliding doors allow the house to be opened up to external decks and a connection to the landscape. The house is designed to harness natural light and allow for cross-flow ventilation. Importantly the house has also been designed and built to provide shelter and withstand, at times, the harsh coastal environment.

Who is your typical client?

Our typical clients are Northern Beaches families – mums and dads with individual residential homes.

If someone is reading this article looking for an architect why should they call you?

For a number of reasons – we have a skill set and a knowledge of what it takes to design in response to a client’s brief from planning approval, costing with builders and then the execution of the building. Also, a point of difference is that we focus on transforming a house to give people an enhanced lifestyle. We focus on the space, the materials, the fundamentals, core values and principles. So that might be environmental design and maximising natural light or it might be maximising the way the building performs (understanding solar heat gain, solar heat loss, understanding insulation understanding cross-flow ventilation). We have passive environmental design principles that are always inherent in our design process. 

We are fortunate enough to live in a beautiful area so maximising indoor-outdoor living that connects the home to its surrounding landscape and in many cases maximising views. Essentially we focus on the functioning of the building first and foremost and then it’s the clients brief that typically drives the style of the architecture. 

Finding the right architect can take time. Here are a few more you may want to consider.

People often ask me whether they should or shouldn’t renovate for resale value. If that’s you and you would like some advice around your property’s current and potential future value, I would welcome an opportunity to discuss your situation and be of further help. Contact me today.


Photograph attribution:
Sketch Arc and Rama images by Simon Whitbread
Cadence & Co. by Brigid Arnott and Maree Homer