WHEN a Sydney architect talks about "the steepest block of land I've ever seen" you know he's talking seriously sheer. Peter Tonkin and his co-architect (and wife), Ellen Woolley, describe the weekender overlooking the Ccntral Coast's Killcare and Putty beaches as "three storeys high before you get to the ground floor" , The front door of the timber home is a 47-step climb up past the garage (with guest quarters on top), past a landing complete with outdoor shower. Inside the stairs continue past the living-dining room and kitchen on the "ground" floor to three bedrooms and ,two bathrooms above.
The stepped scheme means every room has a spectacular view of the surf "You can even sit on the loo and watch waves breaking in the rock pool, which is fantastic," says Tonkin, admitting that even they weren't quite sure of the views their new home would afford.
'There was no way you could get up here and go'Oh, that's what it is going to look like .'So it was a bit of a voyage of discovery when we were building it," he says.
When lie, Woolley and another couple bought the block of land it had a garage on it at street level. Apparently, the previous owner had won planning approval for a home and built the garage but then struck difficulties and gave gave up.
Enter Tonkin and Co with a plan to build a timber, fibro and steel home on 43 poles anchored in the sandstone and stepping up the hillside. "That's a lot of poles," Woolley laughs. "You'd normally have i o or 12.
The plan was to leave the land as untouched as possible, excavating only to sink the. poles to the. bedrock, and to build around the site's sandstone boulders and existing vegetation, with "one single plane of roof and then the single run of the staircase [up inside the house]' ,
"The scheme was really easy," Tonkin adds. "You just drew a diagram of where the rocks were and the house nestled in, between and around them."
Because the house was to be jointly owned by two couples, "the idea was having the living as the heart of the house and having separate roorns if co-owriers Ken and Linda want to be here at the same time".
Accommodation includes one double bedroom with adjoining bathroom, a second double bedroom and bathroom on the top level and a third bedroom ,vith bunk beds. Extra bodies can be catered for above the garage in another bedroom with ensuite.
The entire house sits on the treated pine poles, many stretching from ground to roof level. These support the exposed hardwood frame of spotted gum, striny-bark and ironbark.
The house was then clad in fibro, a fairly cheap material which we needed [because of the relative expensive of the piers, poles and structure], Tonkin says.
The floor, meanwhile, is a mix of grey ironbark and spotted gum boards and the kitchen has plywood joinery (as do bedrooms) with stainless steel benchtops. "Both [couples] wanted a house with a good quality kitchen because all of us love cooking," Tonkin says.
The house is determinedly low-maintenance- and the "integrity of the structure is the decoration", Tonkin says. Even the gutters are huge so that rain simply flushes them Jean.
And there's every chance plenty of green matter will find its way into them given the house has been built to protect the surrounding bush.