- Article by Michael Lewarne
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Architecture and Design: Redshift Architecture & Art
Photography: Brett Boardman
The Dulwich Hill Row Housing project is a modest housing development providing richly nuanced housing in Sydney’s inner-west. Whilst compact, each house is afforded a high level of amenity through considered planning and an arrangement that takes full advantage of a north-easterly aspect.
Context & Design Brief
The site is located in a short street adjacent to the proposed Dulwich Hill Light Rail Corridor. The mix and character of the surrounding building stock is remarkably varied, with a selection of one- and two-storey houses and small factory buildings dating from the early to mid section of the twentieth century. The area is undergoing a transition with compact houses being renovated to provide more substantial dwellings, and factory sites redeveloped with townhouse or apartment developments. After developing and testing a number of options for multi-dwelling housing for the site, the row or terrace house model (prevailing in the area as the Victorian House) was settled upon as the best approach.
The site’s subdivision and the layout of the row houses creates a community of houses cognisant of its context. The proposed houses are given broad widths while the building depth is minimised to maximise opportunities for natural light and ventilation to the interior. The design allows for indoor and outdoor living spaces to take advantage of the north-easterly aspect whilst engaging with the street and maintaining privacy.
The houses have been designed in ‘handed’ pairs, generating a more lively streetscape character and placing the noisier areas (e.g. bathrooms) of each house adjacent to the other. Facades are modelled and expressive with bay windows and large roof overhangs, protecting the windows from sun in summer and creating areas of light and in contrast, deep shade. The palette of materials consists of natural timber cladding and muted paint tones contrasted with the landscape of native vegetation.
All houses are raised above existing ground level, locating a sunny private outdoor space higher than the street, enhancing privacy and therefore utility. Living rooms are located at each end of the ground floor, connecting directly to the private outdoor areas. A lower outdoor space, directly off the street, has been designed for either parking or as an additional outdoor area, maintaining the strategy of usability and flexibility.
Each house, whilst compact, maximises utility and amenity, providing generous rooms with good access to natural light and ventilation. Living and dining rooms are interchangeable, the kitchen is wide enough to accommodate a breakfast bar. A first floor balcony is traditional, but instead a bay window to the main bedroom creates a more protected nook in the sun for a window seat, a daybed or a dressing table. In a plan that is minimised in depth, bathrooms are compact allowing for a second living area or small study plus additional storage. The attic room has a large north-east facing window (well protected from summer sun), creating a bright room that could be used as a third bedroom, office or retreat.
Now in its eleventh year, Shaw Contract’s Design Awards program honors architecture and design firms that are changing the way people engage and interact with a space.