This house in Sydney is perched on a cliff above the ocean

January 18, 2015

Utz Sanby Architects designed the Queenscliff House, located in Sydney, Australia.


From the architect

This new house is built on a tight urban site, perched on the edge of a cliff 100 metres above the ocean. The wedge shaped block has a due north-south aspect with neighboring buildings very close to the boundaries on the east west.


Large fin walls divide the separate functions of entrance and circulation from the living areas and garden, providing privacy and structural support for the upper level bedroom wing.

The main living areas of the house are designed to link the garden space with the ocean and to take advantage of the geometry of the block, which widens towards the cliff edge. Careful placement of structural walls, high-level glazing and roof form has created a generous living room with an abundance of natural light, ventilation, privacy and spectacular views.


The house has been designed to be thermally efficient, through the use of concrete floors and masonry walls at ground level to provide thermal mass.

Hydronic under-floor heating is used throughout the living areas, to provide winter warmth. The dark floor tiles in the living area, absorb warmth and reduce glare from the ocean in the early morning. High-level louvres and ceiling fans are used to allow natural light and ventilation in all the rooms.


There are large sub-floor rainwater tanks with an overall capacity of more than 5000 litres, which supply water used for flushing toilets, watering the garden and washing clothes.


The house and garden are easy to inhabit and perform extremely economically in terms of energy efficiency and sustainability. This house provides the owners with relaxed and beautiful spaces in which to live, entertain and appreciate the natural world beyond.



Architect: Utz Sanby Architects
Photography by Marian Riabic