The Audette renovation featured in Architecture magazine, 1954.

130 Wolseley Road, Point Piper, NSW, 1950–54

For client Bernard Audette, Snelling converted part of a small Victorian house, on the Cliff Towers waterfront estate at Point Piper, into a modern, one-bedroom apartment, opening to a 400-sq-ft triangular timber balcony supported by a concrete pier. The interior space had been used as an air raid shelter and warden’s post during the Second World War, was bricked in, was below permissible ceiling height, and was interrupted by an untidy network of concrete piers supporting the garage above.

To clear the space and find more interior height, Snelling excavated the rocky ground below and replaced the garage piers with rough-cast concrete ceiling beams over the new living-dining zone. In one of his early 'illusionary' ceiling treatments, he painted the concrete slab a dark colour to visually minimize its irregularities, then installed a grid of maple boards to dramatically redefine its appearance.

Visitors accessed the flat via exterior stairs leading down from the top of the sloping site to the north-facing balcony and a front door centrally set in the glazed façade. The balcony incorporated timber decking, built-in seating, planter boxes, and safety rails.

On the west side were a galley kitchen (with a door leading outdoors) and a small twin bedroom and ensuite. On the east side, the living/dining space incorporated a wall of mahogany panelling and shelving, a cocktail bar projecting at an angle from the kitchen, and a central room divider linked to the rectangular dining table. Both the living area and bedroom looked north across the deck and were extensively glazed, but physical access to the deck was through the central entry foyer. Downlighting was modulated by copper reflector shades and louvered fittings.

Sources

—Architecture. 1954. ‘Alterations to a house at Point Piper: architect Douglas Snelling’, October–December, p. 148.

—Australian Home Beautiful, The. 1953. ‘Air raid shelter becomes dramatic flat’, January, pp. 36–39.

—Australian Home Beautiful, The. 1953. ‘Making one room into two’, August, p. 23.