May’s Point House by Tanner Architects

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Perched on an escarpment, and overlooking Frederick Henry Bay, May’s Point was originally farmland and only recently broken into large parcels of land, this one being 20 hectares. The plot was purchased by a Sydney couple with three adult children and who were looking for a holiday house. They had seen architect Stuart Tanner’s ‘Dunalley House’, completed in 2016 and appreciated its simplicity and the relation to that terrain, feeling part of it rather than added. “That house, like this one, isn’t about competing with the landscape. The terrain is powerful in its own right,” says Stuart, who, being a surfer, was as mindful of how this new house would appear from those riding the surf directly below. “It wasn’t an appropriate place to ‘scream for architectural attention,” he adds.

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Stuart is quick to credit the builders, as much as the structural engineer, in making the house appear relatively lightweight, but at the same time incredibly robust. “Jim Gandy (a prominent structural engineer) helped us to create the massive concrete walls at either end of the house. They also add texture to the place,” Stuart says, who used stained timber for the ceiling that extends to the home’s broad eaves.

To accentuate the landscape, Stuart created a series of moody, quite sombre spaces. The kitchen, for example, features a black steel bench, Japanese tiles for the splashback and a dose of raw concrete that’s a perfect backdrop for the owners’ objects and artefacts. And while the focus is towards a concrete hearth in the living room during the colder months of the year, the generous glazing on either side of the dining and living areas allows the outdoor terrace, with its stone fireplace, to be used as an outdoor room during the warmer months of the year.“Even in winter, you can get the outdoor fire charged up and it quickly warms up the living areas,” Stuart says, who was also mindful of continual cross ventilation.

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