Apart from the obvious logistical complications of completely demolishing and rebuilding a house in an inner-city Sydney suburb, there is the ever-evasive problem of light. Where to find it when the boundary line runs against a Victorian terrace on the south, and a 1980s apartment block on the north? How to maximise it once you do?
Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little of Chenchow Little Architects took on answering those questions with vigour in this new residential project in Glebe. While ‘on a typical inner-city site, the centre of the house is often dark and introverted with a poor outlook’, the pair were determined to create ‘a serene, sculptural space flooded with light’ for a family of five.
The resulting compact two-storey dwelling pivots around void-like central spaces that open up the middle of the house to light-filled, bright caverns. ‘By incorporating voids and double height windows into the centre of the building, we were able to focus views away from the closely sited neighbouring dwellings into the surrounding treetops’, Tony explains. The custom built and designed windows align with arched cut-outs in the floor plate, so that light enters from openings all around the house, while the open staircase allows the ceiling to retain its height and connects the two storeys.
The most exciting thing about this house however (apart from the innovative way light has been squeezed in from every angle), is the glamorous use of curves. From the arch of the spiral staircase to the mid-century parabolas of the glazing, the voluptuous bend in every surface is alluring and almost romantic.
Despite demolishing the dilapidated cottage that existed on the block before it, Tony and Stephanie designed the Glebe residence around arched openings to mirror the architecture of the Victorian terraces typical of the suburb. This nod to the site’s context awards the new building an identity loaded with history and imagination.