A site located in Sydney’s city fringe suburb of Surry Hills presented an opportunity to develop a small multi-level urban house which responds to its mixed context of small terrace houses, warehouses and the 1960s Readers Digest headquarters. The house forms a bookend to a row of Victorian terrace houses in the manner of a traditional corner shop or public house, many of which still exist in nearby streets.
The simplicity of form and material produce a tough exterior which relates to the surrounding industrial and commercial buildings but with an overlaid rigour and refinement expressed through the 1200mm cladding grid and the fine texture of the aluminium louvres covering all visible window openings. All dimensions of the house are controlled by the standard 2.4 x 1.2 metre cladding panels which are only cut at window or door locations and all off cuts are used to line the inside of the roof parapet. All external elements are painted the same silver/grey with shadow, texture and detail providing the only surface relief. Internally the house is the inverse of the exterior as it is almost totally open plan.
It has a transparency and generosity of space due to the double height volume of the living area which incorporates a mezzanine bedroom. This space is further visually extended though aluminium framed sliding glass doors which open onto a north facing courtyard. Another set of glazed doors open to a 600mm wide pond running the length of the eastern side of the house. This pond separates the new house from the side wall of the neighbouring terrace house which has been left in its existing state as a rough brick wall on sandstone foundation blocks to clearly distinguish between the masonry construction of the traditional house and the light weight framed construction of the new.
The two levels of the interior are linked by a folded steel plate stair and a yellow joinery unit. On the lower level this yellow box contains the laundry and kitchen storage while on the upper level it is the wardrobe for the bedroom. The only fully enclosed volume within the house is the bathroom which is expressed as an aluminium clad pod within the bedroom. The aluminium composite cladding panels also line the interior of the bathroom. The steel stair continues to rise behind the wardrobe on the upper level leading to a totally private external roof terrace with views of the surrounding district. The house is designed to be naturally cross ventilated by way of the large sliding doors and extensive use of adjustable glass louvres. The pond is also used to assist with evaporative cooling of the house while the stair is utilised to induce stack ventilation from the bottom to the top of the house. Adjustable aluminium louvres are used over the glass louvred windows for both sun shading and privacy.
The construction of the house consists of a structural steel frame with steel studwork, clad externally in compressed fibre cement sheets and lined internally with plasterboard. The lower level has a concrete slab with an epoxy finish while the upper level floor is constructed of steel beams and purlins used as floor joists, topped with compressed fibre cement sheets and Pirelli rubber. The roof terrace is of a similar construction with open jointed concrete paving slabs over a waterproof membrane.Location: Surry Hills, Sydney, Australia Architect: Ian Moore Architects Project title: Dodds House
Design years: 1998 to 1999
Construction years: 2000 to 2001
Principal: Ian Moore
Project team: Ian Moore, Tina Engelen, Will Fung, Sean Radford, Angela Gabb
Client: Steve Dodds
Structural Engineer: Peter Chan & Partners
General Contractor: Constructioncorp
Structural system: Steel framing on concrete raft slab
Major material: Steel, concrete, compressed fibre cement sheet, plasterboard, aluminium and glass louvres.
Site area: 109m2
Floor area: 100m2 + 60m2 roof terrace
Construction cost: $340,000.00
Photographer: Ross Honeysett