Sustainable “Hovering Cube” Architecture Defies Gravity

North Avoca Studio sits cantilevered on a hill, seeming to float above lush greenery and ocean views.

30365 Keith Mcinnes

Image by Keith McInnes Photography

North Avoca Studio is a multi-purpose space where the owners can comfortably work, relax, meditate and entertain.

The clients recently relocated their family from Sydney to North Avoca to escape the increasingly busy inner western suburbs of Sydney. Both husband and wife have careers in creative fields and primarily work from home.

Having a young family, it was important that The Studio complimented their lifestyle and created a space which was completely separate from the main residence, and served the dual purpose of being a peaceful place for work as well as a place for meditation and relaxation.

30379 Keith Mcinnes

Image by Keith McInnes Photography

The Studio utilises steel in many of its components, including structural steel framing, steel piloti, external staircase, awnings and cladding. The use of steel fulfils both a structural and aesthetic function. Meanwhile, the use of Spandek cladding on both the walls and soffit makes the cantilevered form appear as a monolithic form, rather than components, exemplifying the surreal quality of a hovering cube.

30195 Ne Window Matt Thitchener

Image by Matt Thitchener Architect

Key Challenges

Site access

The site had limited access along the side boundary between the fence and an existing split-level home. Building materials had to be craned in, so construction procedure and buildability were key considerations in the design.

Site stability

Difficult geotechnical conditions required substantial footings around 6m deep extending into bedrock that had to be excavated by hand. Clever design ensures a minimum of these footings and a reduction in cost by splitting the load into two paths down a cluster of piloti to the ground.

30199 Piloti Matt Thitchener

Image by Matt Thitchener Architect


The entire roof of the studio is covered in solar panels, which generate enough power to comfortably run the main residence with additional power being stored in a domestic battery farm. All water from The Studio is harvested and used to irrigate the fern garden which has been planted under the structure.

Key Info

Architect Matt Thitchener Architect
Structural engineer Thitchener Consulting
Geotechnical engineer Douglas Partners
Landscaping Natures Vision Landscapes
Photography Keith Mcinnes and Matt Thitchener
Site size 735sqm
Project size 60sqm
Building levels 1
Completion date 2017