Balmain Rock

A respect for heritage resonates through Benn and Penna’s sensitive and thoughtful design for Balmain Rock, which acknowledges the importance of the site and its contribution to the urban character of Balmain.

Architecture AU

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"The material experience of the house acknowledges the distinction between old and new components. Three materials are featured, each playing an important role in communicating the house’s history. The first, the original sandstone, defines the experience of the cottage and helps to demarcate the “old”. The material selection in the extension reflects a desire to pay homage to the quality of the sandstone cottage. "

Architecture AU

The second material, concrete, is introduced in the transition between the cottage and the addition and defines the “new.” It appears as a lintel at the threshold and carefully sleeves into the existing sandstone wall. The heavy, raw quality of the concrete echoes the longevity of the sandstone.

Architecture AU

“The third material, recycled brick, defines a generous light well that connects the ground-level kitchen and first-floor bedrooms. The whitewashed and lightly glazed finish tempers natural light while simultaneously hinting at the varied brick tones underneath.”

Architecture AU

“The materials don’t compete with one another. The concrete is silent but beautiful; there is a real calmness to it.”

Vanessa, Client

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"Strategic, borrowed views to neighbouring green spaces, tree canopies, vegetable gardens and sky constantly refocus and reframe, connecting the interior and exterior. These fragmented and framed views are fundamental in shaping the internal experience."

Architecture AU

“It’s what I love about every room. From any space, I can see the garden, the cottage, the sky, the courtyard…”

Vanessa, Client

The existing sandstone walls have been revealed and are celebrated through thoughtful details that work to respect the fabric of the original cottage.

Architecture AU

"The most striking move has been achieved by replacing the roof [of the existing room] and reconfiguring the ceiling geometry to frame a view to the sky above. The new ceiling appears to hover over the space, floating free of the sandstone walls."

Architecture AU

“I love this room … when you sit here in the evening, you can look up and see the stars.”

Vanessa, Client

Cleverly negotiating the physical limitations of the site, the design is successful in optimizing natural light, cross-ventilation and views. This is achieved through a simultaneously complex and calm spatial arrangement that encourages light and air to permeate throughout.

Architecture AU

“There was so much value in having Andrew involved throughout the process, to deliver the vision. Engaging an architect during construction absolutely pays in spades. Otherwise, there is the risk you compromise on getting the outcome you have worked so hard to get to.”

Vanessa, Client

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“Beyond a great architectural outcome, the Balmain Rock house exemplifies a genuinely collaborative process between the client and architect. Strikingly evident is the mutually respectful relationship that has developed over the life of the project, whereby the role and value of the architect is understood.”

Architecture AU