We wanted our interventions to be respectful of the existing building. The architectural interventions are designed to unify the two dwellings, while the interior design brings out the individuality of the two families.
Two siblings with their respective families wanted to live together in a 5-storey townhouse while having their own units and entrances.
The site is architecturally significant, as it was one of Design Partnership’s (now DP Architects) first projects in the 1980’s. We wanted our interventions to be respectful of the existing building. The architectural interventions are designed to unify the two dwellings, while the interior design brings out the individuality of the two families.
The existing townhouse was unique: a total of 9 split levels connected by a central staircase, of which each flight is half a storey and all landings are connected to significant spaces and rooms. We made use of the split-level system to distribute the spaces equally, with 4 ½ levels for the upper house and 4 ½ levels for the lower house. The main entrance being on the 3rd split level, we managed to create a separate entrance for the upper house by merely adding one flight of stairs, without sacrificing precious space.
The lower house was designed to anchor to the ground, with the living spaces at the lowest level seamlessly connected to the common garden space, and a palette that is earthy and dark. The warmth and cosiness are similarly expressed in private spaces like bedrooms and bathrooms.
The upper house was designed to reach to the sky, with living spaces at the topmost level (formed by roofing over an existing roof terrace) basking in daylight from the full height glass windows, and enjoying views of the Southern Ridges. The private spaces like the bathrooms are designed with similar lightness.
The most challenging aspect of the project was the planning of the subdivision across the split levels. We overcame it by respecting the existing site constraints and turned the constraint into an opportunity.
At the top of the upper house, an existing double pitch terracotta roof covers the original stair core. The new metal roof for the upper house living room was detailed to respectfully set back from the terracotta roof. Under this roof, an existing arched beam was deliberately finished in cement screed to contrast with the white plaster board box-up of the new roof, subtly hinting at the original architecture.