watson's bay house, sydney, new south wales

Let’s be honest, there are very few home sites in the world that match this. That’s if being perched above a beach with uninterrupted views down Sydney harbor is your thing. I’d previously designed a house for these clients on an escarpment out of the Sydney as they grappled with bringing up their kids away from Sydney’s hustle and bustle.

And then they had a rethink and happened upon this site next to Doyle’s restaurant. A kind of institution in Sydney if you’re a tourist and want the whole Australian fish’n’chips next to the beach experience. The site was tight and weirdly accessed through the restaurant carpark. There was a keen interest for my reclaimed post and beam thing. A little rectangular building and arguably the least pretentious home on ‘that strip’ was born. But even then, the fat controllers of the harbor decided my proposal was 300mm too high! So rather than fight them we lowered the building. It’s laughable now!

Not so funny is what happened next. My clients moved in and then Pete was struck down with a condition that has seen all that we take for granted, like moving our limbs, taken from him. In recent times I’ve worked with him on ideas around creating an accessible haven for him and his full time carer that lessens the impact his living conditions have on his incredible family.

Every meeting, every discussion, every email, every phonecall is punctuated with laughter and stupidity. That’s the relationship we’ve always had. Nothing changes that. But it proved really tricky to find Pete a ‘haven’ at home so the brave decision was made to sell and move to a house down the road that would better suit his needs and those of his family. It’s hard to explain to people the connection we architects have with our clients and their homes. It’s such a personal thing. We watch the families grow, the houses age, the gardens develop and situations change as the world keeps on turning. And there we are watching on and wondering about the meaning of it all.