Located on a steep rocky site in Cremorne, Hebden Architects’ Cremorne Duplex houses two families within a pair of sustainable dwellings. A 2021 Sustainability Awards nominee in the multi-residential dwelling category, the practice has brought light and life to the Art Deco-styled duplex, and dealt with a number of adversities to do with the site itself.

cremorne duplex hebden architects

Hebden Architects were approached by a pair of ‘Mum and Dad’ investors who had acquired the site to build a home for the couple, and an additional home to rent or sell. Looking to downsize and capitalise on the state of the property market, the couple purchased the 552sqm corner block site in the hope of being able to house both themselves and another family on the same site.

cremorne duplex hebden architects

The site came with its challenges. Constrained by a sandstone retaining wall on one street frontage and a small landscaped road reserve on the other, it effectively opened up the houses to onlookers, giving the occupants minimal privacy. The area’s terrain was also steep in itself, which meant further challenges in terms of the house’s footprint and the potential need to remove dirt from the site. A native tree that sat on the site was also to be retained.

cremorne duplex hebden architects

cremorne duplex hebden architects

Hebden set about bringing privacy to the dwelling, minimising the number of openings to the south-east street frontage, and covered them with balconies and aluminium screens that featured a timber grain finish. Stoned and curved elements channel the retaining wall and the streetscape, in order to remain respectful to the neighbouring dwellings. The entry has been centralised to ensure the duplex looks like a single dwelling, with the practice looking to connect the home to the external spaces as much as possible. The wet areas are concealed by the retaining wall and brought about an opportunity to landscape directly in front of the spaces and to showcase the sandstone wall.

cremorne duplex hebden architects

Each unit contains a casual living space that connects to the outdoors and subsequent gardens. The main balconies above open directly off the main living areas and connect to the water view to the north and the sky via a circular opening in the roof, ensuring a light filled experience with a strong connection to the surrounding landscape. 

cremorne duplex hebden architects

cremorne duplex hebden architects

In terms of sustainable elements both houses feature tall banks of automated glass louvres that provide ample light and ventilation. The size and extent of windows on the north-east and west elevations are optimised and shaded to optimise natural light, with windows to the south minimised for privacy. Motorised glass louvre windows located in the entry spaces also further ventilation capabilities. South unit has a hi-lite for further light and cross-ventilation in order to maximise natural light without sacrificing privacy. The duplex has a number of solar panels located on the roof, with large rainwater tanks stored below ground level.

cremorne duplex hebden architects

Despite a limited footprint due to the site’s unique envelope, Hebden Architects has created a duplex that is soaked in light and is connected to its surroundings. The clients have fallen in love with the views that the practice has captured within their designs. In a rather full-circle moment, the older man and new wife occupy the unit facing to the north-east, with the male client’s son and his new wife and child occupying the second dwelling, turning the house into something of an intergenerational affair.