Joe Agius and wife Kate purchased this home in Redfern over 20 years ago, ‘in a state of decay, having been left vacant for some time,’ he explains. The idea behind the renovation was to transform the small single-story 3.9-metre wide terrace into a house of ‘spatial openness, daylight and understated calm in the city’. Joe introduced three small courtyards to bring light and landscape into the small site, and a central void to allow ventilation through the heart of the home.
The property was purchased and renovated prior to the couple having kids, and Joe describes that it ‘worked wonderfully for a young couple’, as well as accomodating family life. Although intimate in scale, it has seen two boys grow through high-school, and coped with the ‘noise and chaos’ boisterous kids can create. The renovations frame the space, as well as connecting generously to the local pocket park, rear lane, and local cafes. Plenty of local spaces – to play cricket and sip coffee! – that feel like an extension of the home.
The design was inspired by some of Joe’s favourite architects – drawing upon the ‘sectional elegance of Kahn, the materiality of Scarpa, and the calm of Ando.’ The home is also a tale of ambition and perseverance, as the inventive front attic dormer windows provided a headache in the council approval process. Designed to mimic Japanese cedar lanterns, they took considerable work to have approved, as they did not comply with the Development Control Plans (DCP). Joe gleefully explains that ‘20 years hence, the council approaches us to include the dormers in the future DCP, as guidance for appropriate contemporary interpretation in a heritage area’.
The labour to renovate the home was mostly provided by Joe, Kate and their uni friend Grant, as at the time they had ‘little money but lots of time on our hands’.
The success of this home is evident in its longevity, and Joe reflects, ‘we were intent on creating an enduring (as opposed to fashionable) home – 20 years on, I think we can say we achieved that end.’