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2012 National Architecture Awards: Residential – Houses

Cliff Face House by Fergus Scott Architects with Peter Stutchbury Architecture Residential Architecture – Houses: National Award Australian Institute of Architects

Jury citation

Cliff Face House is attuned to both its function and its spectacular site. Located on the eastern edge of Pittwater, the steep site is dominated by a sandstone cliff running powerfully north—south and parallel with the bay. The location of the new building below and against the rock face allows for subtle management of the site.

One descends from the road onto a courtyard platform that accommodates the landscape, the building and the aspect. The descent is a hospitable stair that is responsive to the site’s qualities and which provides easy access all the way to the water’s edge below.

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House and landscape are assimilated such that the rock face becomes the wall of several rooms. The structure is reminiscent of temporary scaffolds once placed against large sandstone buildings, but here the roles are reversed — the building provides a scaffold for the rock face.

Repetition offers cost efficiencies and a restrained palette engages users with the richness of the site. The building has a rough—smooth ecology, like an oyster. Cliff Face is an easy place, where a couple may enjoy life and views on the upper level, moving down as visitors or waterfront access demand.

See a review of Cliff Face House from Houses 87.

Products and materials

Stratco Prodek in ‘Deep Ocean’.
External walls
Bluescope Galvabond metal sheeting.
Internal walls
Windows and doors
Viridian ComfortPlus glass; blackbutt timber frames by Acacia Joinery.
Recycled blackbutt from Australian Architectural Hardwoods; tiles from Exclusive Tiles.
Tovo Lighting.
Whitewashed plywood joinery with stainless plate benchtops; End Grain cabinet joinery Bathroom: Brodware City Stik and City Plus tapware; Duravit Vero basin; Villeroy and Boch Subway WC; Decina Dolce Vita Cool freestanding bath; End Grain cabinet joinery.
External elements
Pool by Finnish Pools; tiles from Exclusive Tiles.
Heating and cooling
Progressive Energy Systems hydronic underfloor heating; Nectre MKII slow combustion heater from Sydney Heaters.


Fergus Scott Architects
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Project Team
Fergus Scott, Peter Stutchbury, Caryn McCarthy, Nichole Darke
Peter Stutchbury Architecture
Sydney, NSW, Australia
Builder State Construction Group
Door joinery Acacia Joinery
Geotechnical Martens and Associates
Hydraulic engineer Martens and Associates
Joinery MHBW
Landscaping Pape Landscape Architecture
Lighting Tovo Lighting
Pool contractor Finnish Pools Pty Ltd
Structural engineer Structural Mechanics and Dynamics
Site details
Location Pittwater,  Sydney,  NSW,  Australia
Site type Suburban
Site area 950 m2
Building area 264 m2
Category Residential buildings
Type Houses, Residential
Project Details
Status Built
Design, documentation 22 months
Construction 18 months



Published online: 2 Nov 2012
Words: National Architecture Awards Jury 2012
Images: Michael Nicholson


Architecture Australia, November 2012

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