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Everything is shipshape
14 September 2006; The Sydney Morning Herald, Domain

This development certainly won over one judge. By Melinda Ham

The Boatshed, encompassing three eclectic, nautical-style apartments, on the side of an old boatbuilding workshop at Palm Beach, is the winner of two awards: the best use of timber and home units $2 million-plus.

"The Boatshed is a one-off project, unique on Australia," Peter Court, the MBA judge, says.

"It as been built with no expense spared, creating very tasteful apartments. I absolutely love the place."

Parkview, the owner and builder of the project in Snapperman Lane, Palm Beach, joined forces with architect Walter Barda to create this unique "boaties" building.

The design includes a curved tower - alluding to nearby Barrenjoey lighthouse - as well as a wooden dinghy enclosing the central staircase, to connect with the history of the site.

Court gave the best-use-of-timber award to this entry because of the high level of exceptional-quality woodwork throughout the building, much of it crafted by shipwrights.

This included recycled blackbutt floors from the original site, dark-stained timber ceilings, rough-hewn wooden walls, timber kitchen benchtops, wooden sunshades, the boat-hull staircase, a free-form rudder staircase and a curved timber deck in apartment number two.

Gary Cory, the construction manger of Parkview, says he has never worked on such a meticulous and ambitious project. "It was a colossal project from a builder's perspective," he says. "There was hardly a parallel line in the whole design. Nothing was square. There were so many curves and unusual angles; most had to be hand measured."

The first step was to deal with the problems of the site. Fuel storage tanks below the water table had contaminated the soil, so it had to be treated and then the basement of the building had to be waterproofed to guard against king tides and flooding.

Barda combined locally hewn standstone with rendered cement over the brick exterior and an unusual copper roof, which will turn eucalyptus-green over time from weathering. The roof also includes a steamship-style funnel.

"I was the design of the building as an opportunity to give back to the street by infusing whimsical elements with echoes of the site's history and be slightly tongue-in-cheek at the same time," he says. "I also wanted to raise the bar architecturally to showcase workmanship of the highest quality."

Local residents will still be able to get their boats repaired in a corner of the new site.

The Boatshed complex now includes three, three-storey residences, each with interiors that combine a smart-system of appliances and air-conditioning, leading onto private jetties on Pittwater, with separate entrances and foyers from Snapperman Lane and embellished with roof gardens and landscaping, also designed by Barda.