Marra + Yeh Architects designed a forever family home in Redfern, NSW that met the owners’ brief for a sustainable, climate-responsive design with the flexibility to meet their evolving needs.

The Sky House Project involved the merging of two adjoining terraces to create a contemporary home that could accommodate the changing needs of the family for the next 20 or more years. This family of five had a clear vision of what they wanted to achieve with this renovation, especially in the selection of sustainable building materials. The home also had to be water and energy efficient, and the design needed to acclimatise to the changing seasons and maximise natural light.

“Inspiration always comes from the people who will inhabit the project and the place in which it is located,” observes Carol Marra, director of Marra + Yeh Architects.

“It’s important that each home we create is a reflection of both the clients’ personality and the character of the setting. The most satisfying aspect of any build is reaching the end and having the clients say they love their new home,” she adds.

To meet the family’s brief for a sustainably-designed home, Marra + Yeh combined environmental performance, regenerative design and climatic adaptability. The architecture firm, supported by a Churchill Fellowship, had also invested in considerable research to learn more about creating climate-responsive buildings that successfully address the issues of climate change. These learnings were used to meet the specific needs of a project such as the Sky House in Redfern.

With sustainable building materials sought in the brief, the architects engaged Big River Group as their leading timber supplier for the project. Big River’s range of decorative plywood products including Armourply, Armourtread, Armourpanel and Armourform was used throughout the home. Manufactured using local, sustainable timbers that provide both structural and aesthetic attributes, these products have the versatility and strength to be used for finishes, joinery and furniture.

“The family took great care in all materials being used for the creation of their dream home and this is why the use of Big River products was crucial in the process,” Marra explained.

Specified in Spotted Gum, these high quality plywoods can tolerate changes in ambient temperatures, while the resilience of the hardwood veneers makes them ideal for flooring, ceiling or wall lining applications in hardwearing areas.

“We work across Asia-Pacific and have a philosophy of always bringing unique local products into each project. Using Big River timber products fits into this philosophy, as they are not only locally sourced but robust, and with a character that is uniquely Australian,” Marra added.

“Marra + Yeh Architects have been a valued partner of ours for over a decade now, and we were thrilled to be asked to work on such an innovative project as the Sky House,” said Stuart McGonagle, national plywood and speciality manager, Big River Group.

“A significant advantage of using timber on a project like this is that it can be easily modified and adjusted on site, which is of particular importance when working within existing buildings. A high level of detail and craftsmanship can be achieved while also adjusting to unforeseen conditions and the products absolutely deliver on both budget and aesthetic goals,” he noted.

Marra + Yeh Architects have reinterpreted the Sydney terrace house typology, transforming Sky House into an experience of the seasons. Combining great aesthetics, comfort and function, the renovated family home demonstrates a unique connection with the elements of nature.