The billionaire co-founder of software giant Atlassian, Scott Farquhar, has revealed radical plans to replace the fusty old Fairfax mansion he bought for $71m in 2017 with a new $37m designer residence.
The new three-storey Point Piper home, which will have a rooftop tennis court, 20-metre lap pool and a basement gym, is to be designed by the Sydney-born architect Carl Pickering with his partner Claudio Lazzarini, of Rome-based Lazzarini Pickering Arhitetti.
The plans, lodged with Woollahra Council this afternoon, show a home that’s very different from the current 1863-era ‘Elaine’, though a key heritage element remains: a sitting room — which will be encased in glass.
And an urban design consultant, Russell Olsson, has made a bold prediction: “This design has the potential to be awarded every major architectural award in Australia and to become a new architectural icon.”
If approved, it’s expected to take up to three years to build.
And this $37m investment — likely to be far more given costs tend to blow out — is set to dwarf the $100m cost of the neighbouring home of his co-founder, Mike Cannon-Brookes, which set the Australian house price record last year.
A spokeswoman from Woollahra Council confirmed the estimated cost of the proposed build.
That Farquhar and his wife, Kim Jackson, wish to dispose of most of the existing building comes as no surprise to me, having been one of few journalists to have ever been inside.
Ken Jacobs of Christies — who made the groundbreaking sale in 2017 — gave me an exclusive tour in early 2016 advising: “It’s not much inside … the interiors aren’t what it’s about.”
Farquhar said in a statement today: “For Kim and I, this will be a beautiful new family home.
“But more than that, it is a chance for Sydney and Australia to show the world that we believe in great design, that we care for the environment and that we balance that with preserving the very best of our heritage.”
Six architects had submitted designs for the new home, five of them based in Australia.
But Farquhar and Jackson selected Pickering’s submission. The firm also has an office in Sydney.
Apart from the sitting room, other elements to be retained are the basement, the stables, along with the trees and green space.
Farquhar to overturn 2015 plans
And, most importantly, this new DA replaces one approved in 2015 for the 6986-square-metre waterfront estate that would have carved it up into four separate DA-approved homes.
The approved plans had included two waterfront homes directly in front of the old mansion, which would have partially obstructed the magnificent harbour view — not to mention blocking access to the waterfront.
The new home is set to have extraordinary harbour views, though specific details such as the number of bedrooms and bathrooms are being withheld by Farquhar, citing privacy and security issues.
Farquhar and the architects worked closely with leading heritage consultants ahead of lodging the plans, which were two-and-a-half years in the making.
Experts had advised it was not a high order heritage building and the house is not on the State Heritage List.
Pickering’s design was centred around the garden and the heritage-listed trees, which include a Cook Pine, Norfolk Island pine, Bunya Pine, a Camphor Laurel and a Port Jackson fig.
Pickering said: “The design brings together the most important heritage elements in the site, the gardens, trees and lawns with the double sitting room, which is the most significant remaining space in the existing house.”
Planning consultant Brett Daintry said: “This is the best and last opportunity to save the site as one and reinstate it as a grand estate that complements its neighbours Fairwater, Redleaf, St Brigids estates and Blackburn Gardens.”
And Howard Tanner, the former chair of NSW Heritage Council, advised: “The new DA proposes a new house of extraordinary design and opens up a new era for the site as a grand estate.
“The house has been poorly altered over time, and even more so with the 2015 DAs, which completely alter any sense of the 19th century residence.”
The prominent landscape designer, Myles Baldwin, will redesign the gardens, which lead down to Seven Shillings Beach.