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Sheldon house
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Sheldon house

Location:
Sydney
Type:
Terrace House
Year:
2001
Architect:
Group GSA
Project Manager:
Mark Sheldon
Consultant:
William Dangar Design
Photographer:
Simon Kenny

With a shortage of city building sites, many older properties are making way for new housing developments. But while these new houses often incorporate contemporary materials and design, they may also need to relate to the more traditional aspects of their immediate neighbourhood.

Mark Sheldon was faced with such a situation with his own house, designed to replace an existing terrace house, built around 1890.

"The local council stipulated that we maintain the form of the original house and its position in respect to the neighbouring properties," he says. "This meant that when rebuilding the concept of the terrace house, we had to keep the same roof pitch and wall alignments as the original property."

Within these parameters Sheldon says he was free to explore a more contemporary living environment for his family.

"We particularly like a modernist look, but also wanted to respect the property's heritage," he says. "This led to a classical modernist approach to the design."

Masonry walls with rendered recesses and the use of timber window and door joinery instead of steel, help maintain that link with tradition.

The house, built on a hill overlooking a leafy park, steps down from the road front. At street level, a self-contained studio apartment was built above the double garage.

Steps lead down from the front entrance to a 6m-square paved courtyard, sandwiched between the garage block and the main part of the house.

This was designed as a cool, summer outdoor living area, the area was excavated from sandstone rock and features pavers of the same material.

The house was designed with a circulation spine that runs the length of the house, from front to back. Overhead glazing of this passageway provides shelter where it continues through the courtyard, and light within the main part of the house.

A formal living room opens to the internal courtyard. Beyond this is the kitchen-family area, which opens to the north-facing outdoor living area. This room is stepped down slightly from the formal living room and features a 3.8m-high ceiling. Bifold doors open onto a terrace overlooking a pool and the park.

With all the doors open, being in this room is like being outdoors. A kitchen benchtop that continues out onto the terrace also helps to blur the line between indoors and out.

Blackbutt hardwood flooring with top-nailed wide boards was designed to contrast the modernist elements.

Stairs between the family and formal living rooms lead to the bedrooms. The master bedroom faces north, and features a glazed panel to the ensuite - so the owners can see the view from the shower.

As in the kitchen and bathrooms, the master bedroom features streamlined white cabinetry with honed marble tops. Consistency of materials is a key feature of the house.

An additional family room, or grotto, is situated beneath the main living area and opens to the pool. This room can only be accessed from the outside. He didn't want to sacrifice any of the space on the main level by putting in stairs.

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