Sydney Cliff House

Contemporary house that makes the most of its clifftop location

In 2003 Walters & Cohen designed a house perched on the edge of sandstone cliffs in Sydney. The building overlooks the Pacific Ocean 80m below, and every effort was made to maximise the site’s breathtaking views across the water.

Key to the design is the element of surprise. The house is approached up a narrow driveway off a residential street in a densely populated area of the city. Visitors arrive into a double volume space at ground floor level with a small internal courtyard at the far end. The arrival space is lit from above and has no views out. It is not until visitors have climbed the stairs to the first floor that they are aware of the dramatic clifftop setting and ocean views.

The house is made up of two rectilinear double storey elements that enclose the double volume arrival space. Bedrooms and ancillary accommodation are located on the ground floor, with living accommodation at first floor level; the reverse of the suburban house typology. The roofs are two offset planes that float above the more solid rectangular forms separated by a band of clear glazing.

The living accommodation at first floor level maximises the views and creates a sense of living on the bow of an ocean liner.



Total value£0.5m

CompletionSept 2003


QSCave and Associates

ContractorBellevarde Construction

Structural engineerMurtagh Bond

Executive architectCollins and Turner

LandscapeBarbara Schaffer

LightingLighting Art and Science