The Suntrap. It’s the perfect name for a home filled with light and life, thanks to a reorientation by Anderson Architects that has transformed what was originally a cold and dark south-facing heritage home.  

Located in Sydney’s inner-west suburb of Lewisham, The Suntrap houses a growing family who needed more space and improved connections with their backyard. To bring in more natural light and warmth, the design team proposed demolishing the building’s old addition, and replacing it with a new extension. 

“We knew we wanted to maximise budget and impact for the client, so we reduced the number of additional bedrooms (waste not, want not),” the architects say.

“To balance this, we dedicated a modest first floor addition to a more expansive parents’ bedroom with [an] ensuite.”

Suntrap home ground floor plan
Ground Floor Plan
First Floor Plan

Thermal performance was top of mind for this thoughtful alteration, and thermal modelling informed several sustainable initiatives. These include the introduction of an internal courtyard, which opened the heart of the home to the sun, while boosting its efficiency. 

In addition, Green Star 3 ecofriendly concrete walls and hydronic heated flooring brought heat gain to the cold zones. 

Suntrap home living room interior

Photography by Nick Bower, via Anderson Architecture.

“New awnings let in winter sun,” Anderson Architects add in their project statement, “and we specified heavily insulated prefabricated wall and roof panels, and double-glazed windows, to help maintain comfortable indoor temperatures.” 

The result of these strategies is a doubling of thermal efficiency from 3.2 stars to 6.4 stars. 

Suntrap home kitchen interior

However, the sustainability efforts did not stop there. Spotted gum—reclaimed from the floors of the old addition—is used on the new kitchen cabinets and ceiling, injecting cosy warmth into the space. A look-again cantilevered stair adds a sculptural element to views of the courtyard, while letting in the morning sun. 

Suntrap home staircase

Bricks from the old kitchen were also repurposed as another strategic thermal mass wall in the backyard, while doubling as a screen for a 1,400L rainwater tank. The water collected is used to irrigate a new landscaped garden that features Australian native plants, and is designed to promote birdlife and other local fauna. 

Detailed view of Suntrap home wall

As the architects say, “a home’s liveability begins and ends with its orientation”. However, it is their final statement that inspires us towards a better integration of sustainability and heritage design.

“Of course the lesson in all of this is eco-friendly architecture and heritage homes are the perfect bedfellows. And The Suntrap is one lovely, warm bed.”