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Property of the week: a bushland retreat in Sydney by Glenn Murcutt

Built into the hillside

Donaldson House sits within native bushland on the Sydney peninsula of Palm Beach and ‘touches the earth lightly’, the mantra of its Pritzker Prize-winning architect, Glenn Murcutt.

The four-bedroom home – for sale via Modern House (price on application) – is almost invisible from the street. Its rooftop sits flush with the sandstone rock that dominates the site, and the property plunges down the steep hillside below.

Visitors descend down a steep concrete stairway to enter the two-storey house. On the top level they’ll find the master bedroom and bathroom, as well as the main living areas, which open onto a terrace with views out towards the Pittwater estuary. Below are three further bedrooms.

Donaldson House is sited in a high-risk fire area, so it was designed to meet the local standards and regulations. Completed in 2016 and clad in black-weathered zinc, it has reinforced concrete foundations, steel roof rafters and toughened glass throughout.

Sydney property Donaldson House, designed by Glenn Murcutt
Photography: Anthony Browell

All living spaces and bedrooms are on the north side of the Sydney property to maximise light and corridors are placed on the southern side. A tapestry, titled Orion MC, by Victor Vasarely brings colour to the dining area and main stairwell.

Energy efficiency is integral to the design, with Donaldson House featuring solar panels, overhangs and carefully placed operable windows for shading and cross ventilation to eliminate the need for air conditioning.

Sydney property Donaldson House, designed by Glenn Murcutt
Photography: Anthony Browell

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