From the architect:

Maranatha House, situated in Neutral Bay on the lower north shore of Sydney, is a study of layers - material layers, liminal layers and site layers. It is about peeling back, exposing, renewing and refining the spatial expression of a house with many histories.

The original sandstone cottage “Suramma” was built in the late 1880s, with the area adjoining the north-east boundaries now known as Warringa Park. Subdivision in 1958 created the unusual site shape and battle-axe access, curtailing the legibility of the house from the street which extends to the present time. Since the 1920s, the cottage had been altered and extended on all sides, with the early 20th century framed eastern wing and brick entry foyer to the south included in the Contributory heritage listing with the local Council.

Presented with the existing dwelling, we were tasked with spatially unifying the house - making sense of its disparate spaces and creating better connections within the house, to its site and its surrounds. With strict heritage and planning controls to observe, and in acknowledging the site constraints, we extended the enclosed areas of the house by only a few square metres. The realised design is an exercise in examining every spatial connection and expression of the dwelling at its most fundamental level.

Our design approach leans into art-like framing strategies, to address the brief and bring about functional flexibility, aesthetic delight and environmental performance. External and internal views are aligned and articulated, dissolving traditional floor plan limitations with minimal additional footprint.

The floorplan accommodates a future adaptable living arrangement, passive and active energy efficiency installations, retention and refurbishment of the original sandstone, and a palette of simple materials that create a minimalist backdrop to the artworks and furnishings.

Generous natural lighting is achieved via glazed, steel framed elements balancing heavy masonry walls, with a new stair void aside the impressive in situ artwork AES, fabricated in collaboration between artist, architect/design, supplier, builder and joiner. Decorative and indirect illuminations culminate in a dwelling that becomes an artwork in itself, coupled with sensitive landscaping that borrows from the neighbouring park and existing elements.