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Of all Sydney’s chic eastern suburbs, Woollahra is the prime cafe catchment for young parents and empty nesters who love their latte lifestyles. The social scene befits a suburb whose Aboriginal name roughly translates to “meeting ground” or “a sitting down place.” Homes here are tightly held and ritualistically improved to maximize returns.
The site is in a narrow throughway off bustling Queen Street. The character of the area is set in the heritage values of tiny workers’ cottages, slim terrace rows and occasional stately homes. The single-storey red clinker brick suburban house that formerly occupied the site would certainly have looked incongruous in this setting.
When planning to develop the site, the owner took the opportunity to subdivide the 294-square-metre block to create two adjoining terraces. Architect Andrew Stanic took on the project once the council approved the original development plans and the existing dwelling had been razed. With a blank slate, Stanic Harding’s brief was to stay close to the approved skin and consider the streetscape and heritage value of the area.
Not convinced that the initial drawings would deliver the best results, Stanic Harding reworked the pre-approved plans to maximize livable spaces and improve environmental performance. Their approach takes the terrace typology into modernist territory, creating two highly accommodating four-level homes with clean lines. Both are characterized by openness, natural light and thoughtful orchestration.
Viewed from the street, the new insertions blend in with their historic counterparts with minimal fuss. Conservative balconied facades swap traditional lace trimmings for timber panel lining and stainless steel balustrades that hint at the quality of finishes within.
A logical organization strategy was employed to expand the dwelling over four levels with a coveted car space on site. From the street, the entrance doubles as a reading room or informal bar area that segues down into a large open-plan living, dining and kitchen area. This split-level approach uses the natural fall of the land to provide an almost double-height volume oriented westward. Sunshading is afforded by the balcony overhang from the second storey. A bank of glazed doors offers indoor–outdoor convenience to directly access a generous pocket of lawn.
Environmental considerations are addressed at every level. Downstairs the monolithic concrete slab provides a valuable thermal mass. Upstairs, all windows, internal doors and access ways are exaggerated to heighten the sense of openness. Aluminium louvres on east- and west-facing window walls of the upstairs bedrooms and studio allow full control of natural light and cross-breezes. Fluorescent uplighting was chosen for its soft wash effect and energy-efficiency. A roof garden mass planted with silver-blue succulents adds insulation weight to the master bedroom below. Run-off from the roof spaces is collected into a large volume tank concealed in the garden and used in toilets and to water the garden.
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