The renovation involved interior alterations to a 1919 Federation Style semi-detached house. It backs onto an eight-storey 1953 apartment building designed by Harry Seidler.
David Langston-Jones rethinks the rear of a semi-detached terrace in Sydney’s east.
Applying his trademark “architecture of modest invention” on a shoestring budget, he has artfully exploited every precious millimetre of space
The existing house was built 400mm above ground level.
It was organised with three bedrooms along a corridor against the party wall, leading to a living area lit only from side windows giving onto an external access passage. The kitchen, bathroom and laundry were located across the back of the living room, separating it from the rear yard which was built up to match the internal floor level.
Noise from the open 50-space car park to the block of flats adjacent was a disturbance while the rear of the house was considerably overlooked by the external access walkways of the apartments.
The design proposal affects only the existing living room and services within the existing envelope.
It involved relocating the service zone next to the third bedroom, allowing the living room beyond to open directly onto the back yard, lowered to natural ground level. To gain additional ceiling height, the floor in the service zone is also dropped to ground level by casting a concrete slab.
With removal of the services from the back of the house, the rear (east) elevation was reconfigured with a projecting corrugated iron-clad bay containing bookshelves, a fireplace and a media centre to serve as a focus to the living area.
A long slot window located within the bay, between fireplace and television frames the view of the garden beyond for someone seated inside. This window both blocks out views of the apartment building from inside and also prevents sightlines from the apartment building into the living area.
Glass doors to either side of the bay provide general illumination to the living space and access to the landscaped back yard.
The service zone is divided into a separate en suite facility entered from the third bedroom, and a combined bathroom/laundry entered from the corridor.
The kitchen was built within the new living space against the bathroom wall. Over the bathroom is a false ceiling, stiffened to produce a sleeping and study mezzanine open to the living area and accessed by a parrot stair.
An opening roof light provides through-stack ventilation to the living area and diffused natural light to the bathrooms by means of upstand fanlights above the bath.