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Rozelle House 1

September 2, 2012

Carterwilliamson transforms an 1800s brick terrace on a difficult sloping site in Sydney, creating an open and light-filled contemporary home.

Rozelle House 1 is an alteration and additions project to a late 1800s brick terrace in Sydney’s inner west. The site is hemmed in on both sides by its neighbours, leaving only a thin, steeply sloped sliver of land, which drops by two storeys from the front boundary to the rear. On this difficult site, the brief was to bring joy and light to this family home, to eek out every inch of available space for living, to forge a connection to the outdoors and to find space for a yard for the two kids.

Because of the steep site, moving through the home is synonymous with moving upwards, an act signified in each instance by paths traced in solid Grey Ironbark treads. In the living room, the stair is a particular feature: the sturdy timber footholds, hung by a delicate steel balustrade, act as an installation in the space, casting bands of dark shadows along the crisp white wall during the day. At night concealed LED lights glow warmly, carving out a path in the darkness to the level above.

The solid timber island bench defines the kitchen in the open-plan living space of the ground floor. It is oversized and generous, a locus for family activities. Adjacent to the island, a bench seat spans the width of the room and takes advantage of the lush, green light well which draws down light and breeze.  Bi-fold doors off the living area open out onto a Japanese-style courtyard lined with beautifully crafted, hand-cut sandstone walls and a recycled timber deck, built from Grey Ironbark reclaimed from a disused bridge.

In the flexible studio space flanked by a vivid red tiled WC and shower, a sculptural, timber-clad basin has been designed around the Corbusien notion that the act of ‘washing’ should be an event. The prismatic basin form sits in a pool of light from the adjacent window and brings a moment of joy to the room. The sleek, white joinery cranking along the studio walls conceals a vast amount of storage space and a full-size guest bed which folds down from the wall.

Upstairs, the spaces are devoted to sleeping and washing. The two front bedrooms swallow up the traditional corridor, expanding to claim the full width of the narrow terrace. Above the bedrooms hangs the voluptuous, timber-clad form of the en suite, which absorbs the ceiling height to bring a comfortable, more intimate scale to the rooms.

The master bedroom accesses the en suite via a stair that climbs upwards, concealed behind a wall of robes. The loft is at the highest point of the house and skylight windows capture views over the leafy streets and rooftops that lead to the city. The en suite is lined in white penny-tiles which give the room a luminous glow and celebrate the sinuous curve. An enormous stone bath for two and white marble bench tops complete the simple, luxurious space.

Between the second bedroom and children’s bathroom, a narrow light well indicates the division between the existing terrace and the new addition and brings light and ventilation to the adjacent rooms, while the glazed floor shares light with the rooms below.

In the bedrooms, bespoke Western Red Cedar windows frame views toward the iconic White Bay power station and signify a contemporary addition to the original 1800s street facade.

A simple palette of glossy black tiles, crisp white walls, and polished concrete floors are offset with warm timber elements and bright mosaic tiles to create a robust, inviting, family home.

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