A surprise to the Sydney Road House site is the rear garden’s tranquility in contrast to the busy street address. The renovation reorganises the main living and bedroom spaces away from the traffic noise to connect with the garden. A magnificent frangipani and established mulberry tree, planted perhaps not long after the original cottage was built 100 years ago, are rediscovered to become a focus of the rear extension.

A timber truss spans the site’s width to enclose the upper level bedroom and make uninterrupted ground level living spaces. The structure gives the bedroom baffled privacy from oblique neighbours and affords direct views to Sydney Harbour beyond. When the glass doors are slid open, the garden and interior join as a single room. The new concrete floor is sunken to meet flush with the grass, creating an intimacy between inside and outside. Northern sunlight enters the new living rooms through a double height void. Through the void a fine steel staircase and bridge link with the master bedroom. Sydney Road House’s new zinc-clad facade and interior become inseparable from the garden. The whole site becomes an unexpectedly serene experience of dwelling through a simple reorganisation of space.

By Toby Breakspear, 2014-2017. Structural Engineering by Waddington Consulting. Photography by Clinton Weaver