Clifton Garden | NSW

  • Project Type: New Builds
  • Architect: Louise Nettleton & Ass

This project was performed under a lump sum contract and presented many difficulties during construction. The Architect had only limited experience with off form concrete meaning much of the detailing was left to the Sandlik Constructions team. Sandlik successfully ensured the set out symmetry of form holes, introduced the detail of pour break shadow lines as a feature and controlled the integration of services into the finished concrete wall surfaces.

The site itself provided extreme difficulties due to the limited access via a narrow 5m street frontage. One thousand cubic meters of rock was excavated from the site with excavators required to triple handle spoil. The excavation commenced only three meters from the footpath and extended down 10 meters. The process involved a large excavator at the base lifting material to a half way point where a second smaller excavator lifted up to the roadway for a bobcat to load trucks. At completion the 22 tonne excavator was lifted out of the hole with an 85 tonne crane.

The challenge continued for the next 15 months to feed materials into the project via the narrow street frontage. Until the garage floor was built some 9 months after commencement there was no storage at street level, everything had to be craned or manually moved onto site immediately upon delivery.

The existing building was largely demolished however the external 1917 sandstone basement was retained as part of the new house. Most of these walls were repointed and in part required concrete reinforcing or rebuilding to accommodate additional loadings from terrace slabs. Window openings have been inserted on the eastern elevation into the heritage stone work. Sufficient sandstone blocks were cut and retained during the site excavation in order to construct additional walls and planter boxes to match the existing stone wall colour,. This replicated the method used by the stonemasons of 1917.

The house measures four stories from the basement pool level, that wing being predominantly built with an off form concrete finish. The other wing has face brickwork as its external finish. Concrete and face brick extend internally forming large areas of the finish surfaces.

This building’s most fundamental element is off form concrete, as builder’s it was essential the concrete was exceptionally finished or risk the Architect’s vision and the client’s investment being compromised. Adding to the challenge of constructing the off form concrete elements which were angled and tapered was the need to integrate recesses for window frame extrusions, water stop fins, electrical switch plates, lights and sound speakers.

Windows and doors are integral to this building’s design. The Architect has arranged views of the harbour by framing and limiting them from within the building.  Windows and doors either hang within the walls of the building or within overhangs and are placed to create natural ventilation.  Oversized sliding aluminium doors 3.3metres in height are used successfully. Vast amounts of time were spent installing the special stainless steel support systems for the load bearing floor tracks. Particular attention to waterproofing was essential with this unusual set up.

Air conditioning is installed throughout the house however the owner’s report it was not required during their first summer season.  The western side concrete blade walls with stainless steel pivoting windows restricts westerly sun but provides natural ventilation.

Site access necessitated the garage being set at an angle to the northern boundary.  This boundary was extensively underpinned to support and retain the neighbour’s driveway.

Wide timber floors of American Oak have received a hand rubbed stain finish. An elevating TV unit is integrated within the flooring, all controlled via the Crestron home automation system.

Kitchen cupboard doors are lined with a 3mm Corian type material. Other joinery items are finished with teak and high gloss polyurethane.

Stone bathrooms include vein matched Calacutta marble with 6mm slot drain floor wastes.

External decks were originally specified in tallow wood. On Sandlik’s advice the material was changed to plantation Teak to ensure durability and stability of surface finishes without the usual checking and splitting of hardwoods.

At Sandlik we believe we have contributed to one of the more extraordinary harbourside residences to be built in recent times. The end result is a remarkable building in design, construction and quality of finish. The client is extremely pleased with his new home.

New Builds