Ravine House | Rolf Ockert, Architect.

House built over a Cliff in South Coogee, Sydney Sydney / Australia / 2022

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This site is certainly one of the most unusual we have ever come across. There is no backyard. Instead a rocky ravine within the cliffs brings the Pacific Ocean right into its core. 


 


The house is an extension of its location and could not reasonably sit anywhere else. It grows out of the rock organically and responds to the gorge that defines its base. 


 


The resulting X-shaped plan of the house suits its internal organisation perfectly, with four Bedrooms upstairs and Living, Dining, Loggia and Garage on the entry level, both above ground. The natural fall in the rock allows two more levels below, getting more private and intimate in use, providing for the clients various pursuits, as well as with the ravine, as one goes down.  This level also offers a more sheltered outdoor sitting area, a necessity in this location, and the pool that extends east to almost over the ocean itself.


 


The presence of the ocean is immediate, from everywhere in the house. The angular plan and split level section, in combination with, sometimes unexpected, voids and openings, allow a myriad of different view points and experiences of the ocean, the rocks and the sky, enlivened by the various paths of natural light into the house over the course of the day and the year.


 


The natural ravine does not stop at the existing sea wall but continues right under the house to the street. While this created the opportunity to retain the natural flow of stormwater it also, together with the extreme wind forces that needed to be allowed for in this location, presented unusual engineering challenges. 


 


Still the house presents light and airy. While appearing modest and closed to the street the house opens up dramatically to the east. The split level section follows the natural flow of the land, minimising the need for excavation. The experience of the very high living and dining level is enhanced by entering it through the low height, almost compressed, entry area.


 


On the level below that are the private study and the Ravine Room, accompanying the rocky gorge, with the latter illuminated by window slots in the bottom of the pool.


 


The immediate environment of this house can be severe, salty and stormy. The materials have been selected accordingly. Marine grade concrete, anodised aluminium and high perforance glass have been specified to last indefinitely and optimise passive energy performance and natural ventilation. Steel, where required, is 316 stainless, external linings have been avoided. The additional costs for these materials are easily offset by the resulting longevity and the high value created by the design and built quality of the property.


 


The entire roof area feeds into a very large rainwater tank that supplies water for toilets, laundry, landscaping and pool.  A large PV system is sized to provide ample electricity during the day. The client’s electric vehicle provides a mobile battery system, a permanent battery will be installed once more data on supply and demand have been collected. 


 


The clients, a family of four with two young children, spend most of their time in their house as they work from home. They took great interest in the process from conception to completion, more so than is usually the case. It was a privilege to share the excitement with the clients throughout the, sometimes challenging, process.  Not only is the house built to last, but it is designed to accommodate their working and recreational needs, as well as the changing requirements as the children grow up. It looks like this will be their forever home.


 


Rolf Ockert. Architect.

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    This site is certainly one of the most unusual we have ever come across. There is no backyard. Instead a rocky ravine within the cliffs brings the Pacific Ocean right into its core.    The house is an extension of its location and could not reasonably sit anywhere else. It grows out of the rock organically and responds to the gorge that defines its base.    The resulting X-shaped plan of the house suits its internal organisation perfectly, with four Bedrooms upstairs and...

    Project details
    • Year 2022
    • Status Completed works
    • Type Single-family residence
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