Investment properties present unique challenges to both owners and architects. Unlike homes built to suit the needs and expectations of the owner, an investment property requires a much broader appeal that will cater to both prospective buyers and potential tenants. 

Investment properties often have to deal with space and budget constraints; this was the case with the Merewether house, which had a challenging site. Located in Newcastle’s beachside suburb of Merewether, the new home was designed by the team at Space Design Architecture (SDA) to respond to these constraints rather than being defined by it.

“When the site is challenging, often the best strategy is to embrace the elements that make it unique and make the most of what is available to you,” says Daniel Bush, director at SDA. “The site was very narrow and compact but there were great opportunities to extend spaces to the exterior whilst still keeping a strong focus on practicality and aesthetics. 

“Our aim was to maximise the space and create a home that was comfortable, not cramped. We achieved this by carefully positioning rooms to amplify features of the site, and layering spaces in a way that allow for both private, intimate zones and open, connected zones. The incorporation of a small courtyard area and balconies across all storeys ensure the home is effortlessly connected to the outdoor living area, enhancing the sense of space,” adds Bush.

The final design outcome is very impressive, given the compact 242-square-metre block. The Merewether house consists of four bedrooms, three bathrooms, two living areas and two car spaces. 

Considering that it was an investment property, the architects decided on a timeless aesthetic that would have a broader appeal for future owners. SDA’s materials palette was a mix of classic and contemporary materials that would work both visually and practically with the location.

Balmain Sandstock bricks from PGH Bricks & Pavers cover a large part of the ground floor and front fence, while lightweight board and batten cladding, weatherboards and render shape the upper levels, provide a striking contrast both in colour and texture. 

“We chose this particular brick because we were looking for something unique that we could use as a replacement for a recycled brick to complement the urban industrial feel we were trying to achieve for the house,” explains Bush. “We have used PGH bricks many times before so it was the first place we looked and found the Balmain brick, which suited perfectly. 

“The typology of the houses in Merewether is quite diverse and although the area is coastal, the location is still classified as inner city,” he adds. “Overall the project has an urban industrial feel, which met our aim of creating a point of difference and avoiding conforming to coastal expectations.” 

Brick also worked for the architects at a practical level. Being a robust building material, brick is ideal for coastal settings, and can endure the most severe weather – exposure grade bricks in particular are made to withstand salt conditions. Brick is also an excellent insulation material, making the home both comfortable and energy efficient.

The elegantly appointed house offers contemporary, luxurious spaces for multi-generational living, while a contemporary black and white palette extends from outside to inside and throughout the house to add cohesion and flow. The warmth comes from wooden accents in the form of doors, stairs and kitchen cabinetry as well as the external brickwork.

“Working closely with Platinum Building, we were able to design a home that will appeal to the target market and align with the client’s development goals,” says Bush. “The design combines architectural integrity and design quality with financial benefit by catering to a wide range of prospective buyers.”