Compass Architecture
Compass Architecture

Beach House, Coledale

located on the land of the WODI WODI PEOPE of the DHARAWAL NATION

Key Features

Solar Passive Design
Skillion Roof
Double Glazing
Natural Ventilation
Natural Light

The Site

This site at Coledale captures the beauty of the northern Illawarra area, where residential land is locked between the dominant presence of the escarpment and the seeming infinity of the ocean.

The site at the foot of the escarpment is less than 500 metres from the waves. From the first visit, the striking qualities of the site and its environment were moving, and much time was spent observing the atmosphere.

Site topography is complex, with an east/west slope in addition to a northern slope created by the embankment of the rainforest creek. The geotechnical report, council requirements and bushfire report defined a very small building zone.

The Brief

Providing a detailed brief, as well as images to illustrate the desired feel for the home, the clients presented a few main requirements to guide the process: design a three-bedroom family home with a double garage and workshop, keep it contemporary, incorporate lots of glass to capture views of the ocean, rainforest and escarpment, achieve energy efficiency, and a set budget.

The Process

Unique, innovative design was developed through a special client relationship, spurred by shared values and conversations about family, living, community and environment.

Adopting the slope of the site, the house steps up and down in a system of split levels, allowing the building to respond to streetscape scale and context, while presenting a contemporary identity. Split level design also responds to the geotechnical specifications for two separated structures, allowing for land movement.

The movement of the skillion roof opens the house to light and views, while evoking the wings of birds. Layers are expressed through deep eaves, sun screens and the awning, letting the winter light in and protecting the house from the summer sun. The rhythm of opening in the windows, both at ceiling and floor levels creates natural cross-ventilation and captures cooling breezes, with ceiling fans keeping the house cool in warmer weather.

The home’s western façade serves as an anchor, sheltering the house from winds and heat from the summer sun. Living spaces reveal themselves slowly, as a journey; the front door is not visible to the street, living areas are perched on boulders that have views to the rainforest and ocean, and the main bedroom has its own private deck to admire the natural environment.


  • BASIX Certificate 
  • Double Glazing 
  • Water-Wise Native Garden 
  • Rainwater Harvesting: 2 5,000L tanks 
  • Insulation of Subfloor, Ceilings, Walls and Roof 

“Thank you, we love our house. The views, angles, the space and the feel are perfect. It has been a year since we moved into our beautiful home. Thank you, Compass Architecture, for making it a wonderful place to live.”

- Marie and Rory