fbpx DAN | Daily Architecture News Home tour: Stewart House by Chenchow Little Architects - DAN | Daily Architecture News
Home tour: Stewart House by Chenchow Little Architects

Home tour: Stewart House by Chenchow Little Architects

WATCH: Global highlights from the world of architecture, including Stewart House.

The Stewart House is located in Palm Beach on a ridge overlooking the McKay Reserve, a gully which is significant for its Endangered Ecological Community (EEC) of the Pittwater Spotted Gum Forest. This places the site within a bushfire ‘Flame Zone’, and its designs and materials were oriented towards meeting stringent requirements of the bushfire code. In addition, there was much consideration for the environment in its construction.

The house plan is arranged simply around a central corridor, with bedrooms to each side and an open living space at the rear overlooking the reserve. It is shaped as a series of textured rectilinear volumes, stepping down the sloping site in split levels. Inside, the feeling is of seclusion within its bush setting, despite its close proximity to neighbouring dwellings. The bedrooms have fans, and cross-ventilation comes from the central courtyards adjoining each of them. 

Stewart House by Chenchow Little Architects

Location Palm Beach, Sydney 
Function Residential 
Client/owner Private 
Completion date 2011 
Architect Chenchow Little Architects 
Builder Pacific Plus Constructions 

Materials were chosen based on their fire-resistance properties and thermal mass. The walls are made entirely of insulated face bricks, floors are stone tiles (travertine) on concrete slabs, and the roof is fire rated and well insulated. The external bushfire shutters also provide shade during the summer. 

The brick walls incorporate horizontal bands of 50mm bricks, and a ‘hit- and-miss’ screen to the external courtyards and terraces. This provides privacy while still allowing the breeze to pass through. The walls for the swimming pool and its coping are made in the same way. 

These walls are overlaid with high steel I-beams and closely spaced Z-purlins which support the roof. These beams also span the entire building and playfully extend beyond the facade. The brickwork patterns and repetition of the beams give a sense of lightness to the strong textures and rectangular forms of the building as a whole. 

The off-white dwelling spaces and swimming pool contrast with the surrounding greenery, like abstract objects emerging from the landscape. Veneer joinery used throughout is made from locally sourced spotted gum, in reference to the local Reserve. 

The off-white dwelling spaces and swimming pool contrast with the surrounding greenery, like abstract objects emerging from the landscape.

Materiality 2021

The scale and planning of this single-storey dwelling is deliberately smaller than the large houses typical of this area. This, combined with its split-level design, has minimised the amount of excavation required. The material palette used is simple, mainly chosen for their longevity and are locally sourced. The external brick walls require no paint coating, and will develop a weathered patina as they age. 

Sunlight streams into the house through discreet highlight windows on the northern and southern elevations, and through the screened central courtyards. Besides the ample natural lighting during the day, LED and fluorescent lights are used throughout the house to minimise energy usage at night. 

Rainwater is harvested in a 9250L storage tank for use in the toilets, laundry and garden, which has been planted with endemic species. The native flora relates the dwelling place to its environment, and also because they are adapted to minimal water requirements. 


This feature is an extract from Materiality 2021, a new publication by Brickworks.

Register now for your free copy. 

Materiality 2021 explores the use of brick and concrete block in contemporary architecture, as well as issues of urban density and design. In this latest volume, you will find a collection of peer-reviewed projects from some of the most highly respected architects in Australia and the USA, as well as commentary in the form of illustrated essays by architects and academics. This work is intended to provoke discussion and interest among those in the industry, the general reader, and students of architecture and design.

Chenchow Little x Stewart House in Sydney
Chenchow Little x Stewart House in Sydney
Chenchow Little x Stewart House in Sydney
Chenchow Little x Stewart House in Sydney
Chenchow Little Architects features in Materiality 2021, a new publication from Brickworks.

Catch up on more architecture highlights. Plus, subscribe to Daily Architecture News for weekly updates delivered directly to your inbox.

Related stories

Login to join the conversation

Subscriber comments are moderated first. Respect others. Criticise ideas, not people. No offensive language View commenting guidelines

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Further Reading
View all in Architecture
Paved paradise: Fish Lane Town Square by Richards & Spence
Fish Lane Town Square by Richards & Spence Fish Lane in South Brisbane is such a place. It’s a laneway that services during the day a collection of old and new with unplanned qualities, allowing a shortcut between the cultural precinct and West End. In recent years, the laneway, with landscape design by RPS Group, […]
Boomerang House in Brisbane by Joe Adsett Architects
Boomerang consists of five bedrooms, including a parents’ retreat, five bathrooms, a four-car garage, underground wine cellar, upper-level lounge and a light filled downstairs living area. The enormous square-shaped block also facilitates a 9-metre swimming pool and tennis court for the whole family to enjoy. With oversized windows featuring throughout the home, the remarkably light-filled […]
Zaha Hadid Architects creates dune-like HQ for BEEAH Group
Under the leadership of ZHA practice principal Patrik Schumacher, the now-completed BEEAH Group headquarters has been designed to respond to its environment, rising from the desert as a series of low-slung interconnecting “dunes” orientated and shaped to optimise local climatic conditions. “Embedded within its context of Sharjah’s Al Sajaa desert, the design echoes the surrounding […]
Nantou City Guesthouse in China by Neri&Hu
Inspired by the vibrant milieu of the alleyways in Nantou City, the project seeks to reflect on the cultural heritage of the mundane. Scenes of the everyday – people, objects and their settings – are the primary source material for design. To celebrate life in the urban village, the existing structure was cut into as a […]
Home tour: Bilgola Beach House in Sydney by Olson Kundig
Responding to the glittering beachfront environment and exposed location between the north and south headlands, the home was designed by Seattle-based architecture firm Olson Kundig to withstand Australia’s dramatic climate conditions, “where harsh sunlight, high winds and flooding are common,” say the architects. It does this not by working against the rhythm of nature, but rather […]
Wine time: Clos Pachem Winery in Spain by Harquitectes
Located in the heart of the historic Gratallops village, in the Priorat region of Spain, the site of the winery traces the form of an L-shaped polygon. It’s hugged closely on its sides by narrow laneways and traditional row houses, and overlooked by the nearby church – the town’s most dominant structure. The site boundary […]

Back to Top