The Loft

The Home Base blog

Making Waves

This award-winning mansion dubbed a “ship on land” has three levels of luxury living with sweeping water views


Inspired by the curves of the Swan River and a love of luxury yachts, this waterfront residence features curved walls, teak decking and cladding, an infinity pool and unparalleled views.

Designed by architect John LeClare Josephs from Superseed Architecture and built by Peter Capozzi of Capozzi Building, the residence is etched into the cliff over Blackwall Reach and is a symphony of architectural design, engineering, specification and master builder craftsmanship.

Picture: Dion Robeson

The project, a development project for sale, had no client. Instead, it was conceived to showcase the expertise of the builder.

“The aim was to build something unique on a complex site,” Peter says. “It was to be used as a spec home for Capozzi to sell.”

Original housing plans that followed traditional models, provided in the sale of the site, were immediately scrapped. Armed simply with a loose spatial brief based on property expectations of the area and a budget, John was given free rein over the schematic design. The result was a three-storey design, like a ship on land with curves throughout and almost no standard right-angle geometry to be found.

Picture: Dion Robeson

Picture: Dion Robeson

During the first meeting in which the design was presented, the crew from Capozzi Building were taken aback. But after explanation of the architectural reasoning, the structural rationale and most importantly, that it was completely unlike anything else in the area, they immediately were on board and conversation quickly turned to construction methodology and detailing.

It was a move that paid dividends, with the home scooping the pool at the 2021 Housing Industry Association awards, taking out gongs for spec home of the year, lightweight housing project of the year, best bathroom $35,000 to $60,000, and a range of other awards.

It was also rewarded with two awards at the Design Matters 2021 Building Design Awards (WA), including WA Building Design of the Year.

Picture: Dion Robeson

Peter and John say the home is so unique because it follows a clear vision – to let the occupants experience the landscape from the moment they step foot on to the site.

To create this experience, the form of the residence is separated into two clear spaces, joined by transparent sun halls, providing a clear vision right through the residence. The form of the two spaces has subtle curves and angles, clad in teak, to meld them into the adjoining landscape. The attention is directed not to grand entranceways, stairs or porticos but instead to the views to the river beyond.

Internally, the benefit of the two volumes is clear. They provide both logistical and acoustic separation and allow different zones to be heated and cooled more economically. But whilst separation has its benefits, the ability to utilise the doubled-sided balconies between the volumes is where the beauty of this configuration lies.

Picture: Dion Robeson

Opening up the massive sliding doors in the sun halls blurs the boundaries between driveway, entrance, sun hall and balcony, creating massive usable space where traditionally it would be designated non-habitable and this follows a similar pattern on the floor beneath. What was once a balcony for 10 becomes an entertaining space for 100.

The topography of the site, a 13m difference from top to bottom, including a 7m sheer drop, and extremely difficult soil conditions made construction far from plain sailing.

The site required parking on the highest of the three levels, to minimise the potential impact of parking space, which is further enhanced with a double car stacker in the garage and internal lift.

The home features entertaining spaces up top, moving down to more private bedroom spaces below, and down again into guest suites and services areas.

The plan differences between the levels of the project create a form that, when viewed from the west, are reminiscent of the geological layering of the limestone cliffs.

Travelling downwards, using stairs, lift or external ramp, what is immediately apparent is how the residence is backed on to a sheer cut into the limestone cliff. Whilst this is spatially advantageous for certain rooms, as well as helping energy credentials by adding massive amounts of thermal mass, there was a consideration from the outset to ensure that the ground-floor external spaces did not feel tight or pushed forward by the mass of the building.

Picture: Dion Robeson

The solution took inspiration from Le Corbusier’s Piloti – raise the building on columns, letting the form of the residence itself create massive amounts of covered space.

To avoid creating a cave-like experience, as you progress towards the line of the sheer limestone at the rear of the property, the height of the concrete soffit above jumps from single storey to more than double the height, shaded by the suspended driveway.

The home has a lift, garage parking for four cars on two levels, wine cellar, smart wiring, custom wardrobes and cabinetwork throughout, double glazed windows and doors, outdoor kitchen and much more.

Picture: Dion Robeson

A massive kitchen island features imbedded LED perimeter lighting. Skylights overhead are subtly curved and feature concealed strip lighting. Key external windows and the wall separating the main ensuite are custom curved glass, while
the bathroom for the guest suite is concealed behind a secret panel. The lap pool has a wet edge running its entire length with views to the ocean and beyond.

With the views orientated west and every habitable room having incredible outlooks, the structure and composition of the residence is extremely efficient by necessity.