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A Little Home With A Long Life

Architecture

We usually feature renovations fresh after completion, when there is still a whiff of drying paint in the air. This home, owned and renovated by architect Joe Agius, was redesigned 20 years ago and has truly had time to settle into itself!

Take a tour of this terrace home in Redfern, where light floods the property to create a sense of space. This is a renovation that has stood the test of time!

4th April, 2019

The spacial and warm home of Joe Agius and family, in Redfern. Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

Breathing light into a small site. Chee Soon and Fitzgerald Japanese abstract printed +floral cotton/linen cushions. Chee Soon and Fitzgerald Khadi teatowel in purple/blue. Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

Joe and wife Kate renovated with Redfern property 20 years ago, and they still love the space. Utopia Goods Angophora Blue pure linen napkins. Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

Personality shines through in the collection of decorative objects. Utopia Goods Angophora Blue pure linen napkins.  Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

A narrow site is illuminated with pocket courtyard spaces. Utopia Goods Angophora Blue pure linen napkins. Woodblock print artwork by Japan-based artist Ralph Kiggell.Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

Interior details of the Redfern house. Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

Calming blue and green bedroom details. Chee Soon and Fitzerald Indigo Hmong Skirt cushion. Chee Soon and Fitzgerald Indigo cotton cushion. Utopia Goods Firewheel Earth pure linen cushion cover. Chee Soon and Fitzgerald Indigo Patchwork Khadi bedspread. Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

Timber nooks in the master bedroom. Major Minor linen pillow cases from The DEA Store. Chee Shoon and Fitzgerald Japanese kimono silk cushion.  Utopia Goods Angophora Grey pure linen cushion cover. Utopia Goods Fig Grey furnishing linen fabric. Rust fringed cotton blanket from The DEA Store. Artworks by various New York-based artists, collected on a trip in 2008. Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

The dormer windows were difficult to get approval for twenty years ago, but are now held up as a successful case study for contemporary heritage interpretation! Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

The dormer windows fold out like a Japanese lantern. Utopia Goods Mountain Devil Garnet pure linen cushion cover. Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

An arresting and shifting facade. Photo – Scott Hawkins. Styling and production – Louise Bickle.

Lucy Feagins
Thursday 4th April 2019

‘We were intent on creating an enduring (as opposed to fashionable) home…’ – Joe Agius.

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.’

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