Casey Brown designs a rugged holiday house overlooking Avalon Beach in Australia

A highly crafted house pairs heavy natural materials such as stone and brass, with its impressive plot – a headland of of sandstone and shale jutting out into the Pacific Ocean

House with mountain view
Bangalley house designed by Casey Brown Architects
(Image credit: Casey Brown Architecture)

Overlooking Avalon Beach, north of Sydney, a new house designed by Casey Brown responds to the rugged landscape with raw materials and dramatic design.

The rising monolithic headland of sandstone and shale where the house is located juts out into the Pacfic Ocean and is surrounded by three collossal Norfolk pines and flame zone bushland.

It's no surprise that for the clients, this incredible piece of land was central to their plans. Their brief to the architects for the house was to ‘do the site justice’, ‘be part of nature’ and to ‘last 100 years’

Natural stone column

(Image credit: Casey Brown Architects)

Casey Brown's ‘topographic response' involved using the landscape as a tool and a guide. The journey starts at a Corten and copper vaulted entry canopy which is supported by a natural sandstone column found on the site. Opening up the front door reveals the view of the coastal headlands for the first time, framed by a double height space.

Five staggered pavilions, set naturally alongside existing boulders and twisted tea trees, align their openings to the southern coastal view and the beach view to the west. The façades feature cantilevered terraces and balconies, exposed hoods and deep recessions that bring light into the house.

Living spaces are distributed across the pavilions – the top floor is the private master suite, the garden level blends dining, cooking, living and working, while the lower space is a sheltered guest suite tucked into the rocks.

Terraces and interior of the house

(Image credit: Casey Brown Architects)

The heavy natural materials of the house rise in balance with the landscape. The concrete skeleton engineered by Ken Murtagh reflects the layers of the cliff face below. Large bricks by S. Anselmo feature inside and out. A smoky burnt colour has been used on the exterior to blend with the weathered sandstone, while inside, white bricks reflect light and the sun that filters through the house over the day.

Caroline Casey was responsible for the highly crafted interior details that continue the refined material choices. Stone floors, vaulted timber ceilings and brass railings are complemented with detailed joinery, and central to the house is a finely crafted floating concrete stair connecting the three levels featuring a brass sculptured screen.

Dining room

(Image credit: Casey Brown Architects)

Corten steel gate house

(Image credit: Casey Brown Architects)

Covered corridor

(Image credit: Casey Brown Architects)

Sea view

(Image credit: Casey Brown Architects)


Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.