Located in the Sydney’s Balmain Heritage Conservation Area, this project consists of the alteration of and addition to the existing semi-detached houses. These Victorian-time workers cottages have been significantly transformed to suit the new owners’ brief for a home and office space at the same time. The solution found by architects Benn+Penna is a sequence of carefully unfolding scenes, organized in such a way as to control privacy while remaining interconnected. The result is a twin house with brick facades and cedar cladding and screens. The brick walls are a heritage feature that needed to be preserved, while the cedar addition brings that touch of architectural sophistication. Besides that, the cedar screens filter the light and insure the desired level of privacy both in the rooms and in the small courtyard terraces. The two houses mirror each other in terms of layout. The corner part of the house has an extra space on the ground floor, used as office space. The elevated ground floor is symmetrical, with open plan kitchen and living room opening on a courtyard terrace. An extra room on the street side is used as bedroom or working space, depending on the specific needs. The upper floor is a rectangular box that has been added to the existing structure and has the same function of bedroom/office space.
The two houses are divided my a communal central wall, that is continued outside, separating thus the two small courtyards. This wall is in red brick, like all the external walls of the house- part of the heritage of the neighborhood.
From the open-plan kitchen and living room level, an open staircase leads up to the private part of the house, used as bedroom or office space.
In order to make the most of the reduced space, a lot of custom furniture has been created especially for the house, from shelves, to desks and built-in storage.
The level of light and privacy on the top floor is regulated thanks to the wood screens that can be open or kept closed.