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The Smiths Lake House

Drew Heath’s Bondi House is featured in Issue 11 of Habitus magazine – out March 15. Here, Jane Burton Taylor revisits another of Heath’s homes built for privacy and seclusion to see what’s changed.

When architect Drew Heath first visited his client’s sloping site on the edge of Smiths Lake, the block was a virtual forest of spotted gums. But Heath knew it would not remain so and created a weekender for his client that would keep it private. Three years on, with a near neighbour on one side and a DA in for a house on the other, it still is.


Heath essentially designed an inbuilt privacy screen, a U shaped double brick wall with just vertical slot windows to the side and a double height opening, facing north to the view. To add character he opted for dark fired bricks externally and conventional red bricks internally.


“I wanted to build something strong and monumental in a suburb of predominantly lightweight fibro holiday houses,” Heath explains. “And I  wanted it to be double brick, to emphasise a sense of shelter.”

Within the parenthesis of the protective wall, Heath created playful private spaces for his bachelor client.


“We wanted to have a sheltered northerly deck as the main living space adjacent to an enclosed living space with a high volume,” Heath says.


He achieved the high volume by designing a living room with a mezzanine. So the living space has a partially double height ceiling and opens, via a ten metre wall of sliding glass doors, onto the deck.



“I designed the front deck and the living room to be joined as one space when the sliding doors are pulled back,” Heath says.

Upstairs there is just one enclosed bedroom and a generous open studio space, which can be converted to bedrooms in the future if needed.


The roof at the rear lifts toward the hill behind and its operable louvre windows, mirroring those above the living room doors, “let cooling breezes off the lake work their magic”.


Three years of weekends and holidays later, the house is working just as Heath had intended. “He loves it,” the architect says. “He is a recluse in a way. He doesn’t have the phone connected and he hasn’t built a driveway. He just walks up the hill to the house and retreats behind the encompassing walls, into privacy.”

Drew Heath’s Bondi House is featured in Issue 11 of Habitus magazine – out March 15.


Drew Heath Architects


Photography: Brett Boardman

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