elegant beachfront apartments resolve tricky site

North Steyne, Manly NSW, 2014

The Luxe apartment building, located at the last kink in North Steyne, draws inspiration from the ancient sandstone cliffs of the headland and their slow struggle with gravity. 

Balconies in Luxe cantilever toward the horizon creating a series of alternating sheltered and exposed ledges for the inhabitants of the building. These curvaceous outdoor spaces are staggered across the facade developing an interesting profile in the street-scape that - like the sandstone cliffs of North Steyne - is in constant shadow-play as the day passes.

The building mass of Luxe has been broken into two distinct parts, respectful of a landscape corridor that already characterises the adjacent urban grain and runs parallel to the street frontages. A generous landscaped courtyard sits between the two buildings. Along the south boundary is a view corridor. The view corridor sets the buildings away from the boundary and maximises solar access for neighbours to the south. View-lines from Bonner Avenue connect through this green corridor back to the beach.

The choice of materials in Luxe combines elegance with endurance. A reflective white tile cladding on the building facades references the sparkle of sunshine on moving water. This shiny salt-resistant finish reflects light from the sea and horizon, particularly when viewed at an oblique angle. The tiling also ensures maximum natural light extends to the ground plane in the set-back areas.

Off-form concrete balcony soffits express the raw strength of the cantilevers and bring a natural patina to the elevation when viewed from the footpath below. The concrete will be evenly lit from beneath softly brining the building alive at night.Roof elements are clad in a mid-toned grey aluminium cladding panel and continue the curved-corner aesthetic of the lower levels. Hand-seamed vertical ribs in the aluminium bring rhythm to the upper levels and produce an array of fine shadows as the sun moves across the surface.

Landscaping is used extensively to reinforce a sense of place, deal with building adjacencies and to characterise the development. Bicycle parking, laundry drying and compost areas are integrated into the various common and private spaces of the project. Alternating balcony geometry provides a variety of direct sunshine and deep shade in each apartment.

Client: private developer Services: architecture Number of dwellings: 14 apartments

project team: RAW Architects, Adam Russell, Brooke Jackson and Prudence Duncan collaborators: JTA (collaborating architects), aecom, peter glass and associates