Florin Monroe House

Balgowlah Heights

Our clients original brief was to alter the existing double brick austerity period (post WWII) house to suit the needs of a young 21st century family. Where possible, we are strongly in favour of retaining and reusing existing built fabric for both historical and environmental reasons. After a number of iterations of the design, we made the collective decision to demolish the house and start over. A happy bi-product of this decision was that we could submit the plans for approval to a Private Certifier using the NSW Housing Code – a set of codes recently developed for residential projects by the NSW Department of Planning. The idea of the NSW Housing Code is that, assuming your proposal fits within certain fairly universal guidelines, the plans will be approved within 10 days, rather than the usual three to twelve months if submitted to a local Council. Such an notion, while not without its potential dangers, can produce an excellent design outcome, cost and time savings.

The new house, aside from being an expression of the personalities of our clients (a young expatriate family of four), is designed to capture the winter sun and distant views of the Pacific Ocean and Sydney Harbour. The twisted brick base of the building envelopes a protected, yet uncovered, outdoor dining area, and a covered outdoor living area, overlooking the rear yard and swimming pool. Another twisted form, clad in raw timber sits astride the masonry base, catching the winter sun and forming a covered entry way, and rooftop garden.

The main stair reflects the distorted external form, providing a both sculpted storage space and passage to the first floor. The front entry opens to a music room designed for our client’s grand piano, and from which there is access to a sewing and craft room adjacent the garage. The floor of the living room is set three steps above the kitchen and dining area, rising over the swimming pool to the ocean view. Finishes are modest, reflecting the relatively modest budget for the scale of the project.


Project Team:

Sam Crawford, Claire McCaughan, Lionel Teh


Structural Engineer – James Sutherland, Northrop
Hydraulic Engineer – Matthew O’Hearn, O’Hearn Consulting
Quantity Surveyor – Matthew Saunderson, QS Plus
Landscape design – Owner with Sam Crawford Architects