The brief for this copper house was to design a retreat with spaces that were rich, tactile and light, and that created a sense of privacy and a coastal feel.
The resulting design was so good it earned Thirroul architecture practice Takt Studio for Architecture top honours at the NSW Architecture Awards.
The Takt Studio, a member of the Australian Institute of Architects Country Division, won the Robert Woodward Award for Small Project Architecture for the copper house project in Sydney's eastern suburbs. It is the category's highest honour.
"This small, 60-square-metre house is in the rear yard of an existing residence on a steeply sloping headland site in Coogee, replacing an earlier fibro dwelling in poor condition and which was built over the side boundary," the jury said.
"Accommodating two bedrooms, bathroom and living space, the building is an inventive response to constrained site conditions and the client's requirement for a small residence with multiple future uses, including a granny flat, visitor accommodation or possible permanent home."
Takt co-director Brent Dunn, who owns and runs the practice with Katharina Hendel, said materials were chosen for their beauty and durability: copper wall cladding, internal canvas wall panels, waxed concrete floor and timber joinery.
Mr Dunn said architecture must be on the agenda from city scale to the smallest projects because it profoundly affected society's wellbeing.
"At last the Illawarra is receiving the attention that it deserves," he said.
"It has a wonderful environment and built heritage and it is exciting to be even a small part of its re-invention for the coming generations.
"As a regional private practice, it inspires us that smaller buildings are starting to receive recognition. They are an answer to some of the challenges in the current real estate market - a sustainable alternative to oversized housing, a way to offer flexibility in living and working arrangements, supporting intergenerational relationships and creative industries."