Inner city blocks come with a fair amount of tribulation for those tasked with remodelling existing abodes. It essentially comes down to how an architect mediates and mitigates these issues, and looks beyond the restrictive nature of building regulations to craft something of the utmost quality, that aligns with the desires of the client of course. Annandale House 1, created by Hebden Architects, rises above a range of challenges to create a contemporary take on the quintessential townhouse, that utilises its location and character to craft a place that emphasises connection amongst multigenerational family members, green spaces and the community as a whole.
The original dwelling was a small, plain single storey dwelling constructed in the 1930s that was mistreated by a raft of owners that had tried to make multiple alterations over time. The site itself is long and narrow, and slopes downwards towards the rear of the block. The client desired a terrace house like those seen on the corresponding lots, as well as an additional dwelling for additional income and/or possibly low cost housing for her family members.
Hebden was met with a range of adversities, including a limited budget, aircraft noise and flood zoning, a sewer main across the site and a dissonant settlement pattern with questionably built terrace houses on one side and unsympathetic single storey dwellings on the other, owned by hostile neighbours. These plus a cabbage palm at the front that needed to be retained shaped the character and form of the house and the subsequent secondary dwelling that reinterprets the classic Sydney terrace house.
Annandale House 1 reflects the slope of the site, with a series of boxes that step down the block. This is articulated further by a simple metal frame that sits vertically at the side of the front wall, that turns back at an angle along the side of the skillion roof. The box at the top of the block is home to a front balcony, that is covered by a pergola, that offers views of the park on the opposite side of the road and it’s palm tree canopy that responds to biophilic and contemporary design principles. These principles are furthered with the metal fret-work facing the street that acts as a trellis to grow a vine, creating a small yet effective green space, a planter box placed at the base of the internal lightwell, and an adjacent wall lined with a vertical garden, seen through the windows in the living room and hallway. Natural light pours through the dwelling through the means of windows to the north facing wall and an operable skylight, placed above the stair, that also increases ventilation.
The interior palette is one of minimalistic proportions, and utilises the services of white, chestnut and charcoal to further the terrace house ideals of the remodelled dwelling. Charcoal window frames juxtapose white walls, while the chestnut carpet and floorboards provide a contrasting notion to the white seen amongst the hallways, living spaces and kitchen. The house’s location, being directly under a flight path, meant the adoption of various acoustic treatments. Hebden opted for resistant and absorptive linings and glazing, perforated wardrobe doors as acoustic baffles and special ventilation, to ensure the house would not suffer from its unfortunate location.
The interior steps down the site and opens onto a large deck at the rear, connecting to the rear yard. A paling fence separates this from the secondary dwelling beyond, with it’s own small courtyard beneath the existing Crepe Myrtle tree. The bedroom above has windows on three sides and overlooks the abundant surrounding greenery. The bedroom at the other end opens onto a small balcony overlooking the park. This secondary dwelling is also expressed on the north as boxes stepping down the site.
The secondary dwelling is slim in width, due to flood zoning requirements. This resulted in Hebden devising a long, narrow floorplan with two bedrooms and bathroom on an upper level partly above the new garage with living areas at ground level adjacent. The practice have done exceptionally well to fit a second abode on the narrow block, and have opened up various opportunities for the client to house family members or other tenants as a result.
Hebden Architects have smartly devised two separate dwellings, that can either further the trend of multigenerational living, or allow two unrelated groups to live happily on a constricted inner-city site. The main house is a smartly devised, elegantly textured space that encourages the customs of luxurious city living. Citing the timeless Sydney terrace house as inspiration, the practice have offered up two architectural dwellings that have honoured the desires of the client, and risen above the various adversities faced on the block and its metropolitan locale.