Tree House


The Tree House is hidden within a shared bushland valley in Bayview on Sydney’s Northern Beaches. It is a remarkable site for the steep topography, intact bushland, diverse ecology, and almost complete privacy.

The clients bought the site with full appreciation of both the challenges and opportunities it offered. They met the site with an equally ambitious and unequivocal brief. The house was to support plant, animal and human life in this special environment. It was to integrate and honour the landscape rather than altering it. It was to minimise the use of resources in construction and occupation.

Materially, the house is required to be tough externally due to the high level bushfire threat (BAL FZ for all facades). It is clad in 3mm sheet Corten steel and skirted by suspended galvanised steel grated walkways and decks.

Internally, where timber is permitted, the house is lined in birch ply and blackbutt.

Notably, there is a conscious effort to reduce the use of coatings internally and externally to an absolute minimum. Cladding, walkways and landscape walls are all unpainted. Internally, all timber is coated in plant based oils and waxes. There is virtually no paint in the house. There is no use of chrome.

At a broader level, the house seeks to engage with a series of increasingly relevant questions about how an Australian house can respond thoughtfully to the natural environment, given the growing number of natural threats and the rapidly expanding regulatory network controlling the way that buildings facing natural threats are constructed.


Project Team – Matt Elkan, Daina Cunningham

Builder – Avalon Constructions – Russ Davis

Landscape Architect – Lindy Hulton Larson

Engineer (Structural and Hydraulic) – Simon Mabb – NB Consulting Engineers

Joinery – David Krajancic (Elysium Concepts), Fine Earth Joinery

Photographs – Clinton Weaver


Awards || Publications

2019 MBA NSW Winner New House $2.0m-$2.5m (Avalon Constructions)

2020 NSW Architecture Awards Shortlist - Residential Architecture Houses (New)



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