This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

A Striking Sydney Home Designed For Book-Lovers

Architecture

It’s surely the dream of many to live in a house surrounded by books. For a retired literature academic in Sydney, this is no fantasy. It’s her reality!

The client engaged Sibling Architecture to design a two-storey addition to her Federation era cottage in Tempe, that would accomodate her impressive library. Enter this eye-catching contemporary home extension inspired by the Maison de Verre in Paris, where every design decision has been made with reading in mind!

16th June, 2020

A perfectly compact kitchen and dining room takes advantage of the lofty ceilings. Photo – Katherine Lu.

Southern light filters in. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The central bookshelf begins. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The back fo the house opens like a book. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The mezzanine level overlooking the kitchen is a solitary reading nook positioned next to an original cottage window. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The central bookshelf stretches across the split levels, connected by the steel staircase. Photo – Katherine Lu.

A cross section of the extension. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The indirect, filtered light. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The top floor reading nook has been fashioned from the same timber used to make the shelving. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The south-facing reading nook on the top floor. Photo – Katherine Lu.

The Glassbook House was a finalist in the Residential Interiors category of the Dulux Colour Awards 2020! Photo – Katherine Lu.

The vibrant bathroom echoes the electric blue tones throughout the house! Photo – Katherine Lu.

The rear facade is made from stacked glass blocks. Economical, sound-proof and perfect for filtering reading light! Photo – Katherine Lu.

The floor-to-ceiling glass doors act like pages, opening the house to a reader. It’s like cracking the spine on a new book! Photo – Katherine Lu.

The modest Federation facade gives no indication of what lies beyond. Photo – Katherine Lu.

Sasha Gattermayr
Tuesday 16th June 2020

‘We wanted the activity of reading to proliferate the living spaces of the home.’ – Qianyi Lim, architect

Sibling Architecture has made a name for themselves with their innovative, conceptual and often playful approach to architecture. Their projects often go beyond aesthetic design, demonstrating a social and cultural conscience, and the Glassbook House in the Sydney suburb of Tempe is no different.

Created for a retired literature academic, the two-storey addition to a Federation era cottage had just one requirement: to be a private oasis for the client and her books. ‘Our vision was to create a light-filled sanctuary for reading,’ explains architect, Qianyi Lim. ‘We wanted the activity of reading to proliferate the living spaces of the home.’

With this in mind, Qianyi took the central organising principle of the client’s life (books) and created a floorplan that revolved around them. The social spaces are choreographed around the double height bookshelf, which sits at the centre of the house and stretches to the ceiling, cutting across the three split levels of the home.

The result is an inversion of traditional open-plan living, using mezzanine levels, open stairwells and steel mesh flooring to connect the spaces vertically. Qianyi credits Japanese residential architecture with the inspiration for this innovation, citing the way it utilises split levels to divide spaces as a key influence. These staggered platforms house multiple reading nooks, which are designed to take advantage of different aspects that maximise natural sunlight throughout the day.

The south-facing rear facade of the home is built entirely of stacked glass blocks which – as well as providing some serious wow factor – filters soft, indirect reading light through each level. Sturdy laminated timber veneer boards were selected to create continuous shelving, which stretches up two storeys along the central wall. On the top floor, the shelves lever out parallel to the floor to form a reading platform perfect for nestling next to the window. The result is a residence that unfolds itself as you progress through it, inviting you to take a seat at any of the reading nooks, take a tome from the shelf and settle down for the afternoon.

Not only does the striking glass block facade provide perfectly filtered light and a distinctive exterior feature, it creates an acoustic buffer between the domestic space and the flight path overhead. The block is situated just next to Sydney airport, so this added layer of protection was an absolute necessity in creating a library-like sanctuary.

Single pane glass doors act like pages, opening the kitchen and dining space out onto the paved back yard. Opening these floor-to-ceiling doors is a little like cracking the spine of a new novel. This house is an open book!

See more projects from Sibling Architecture here.

This Week

Architecture

A Faithfully Updated Mid-Century Melbourne Home

A restrained renovation for a 1960's home in Frankston South by MRTN Architects.

Architecture

The Best Tasmanian Architecture Projects Of 2020

The winners of the Tasmanian Architecture Awards were announced last week, today we reveal our highlights.
Sasha Gattermayr

Gardens

A Lush, Layered Family Garden in Hawthorn

Kate Seddon Landscape Design update a Hawthorn backyard, to suit a new phase of family life.

View Comments

Similar Stories

Interiors

This Community-Minded Interior Is More Unique Than Meets The Eye

Sibling Architecture triumph with this flexible home / work interior, to cater for all bodies and accessibility requirements.
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Space-Efficient Family Home Filled With Colour (+ The Brightest Bathroom EVER)

This family home in Preston by Sibling Architecture has the fizzy sherbert palette of a lolly jar, but with all the trimmings of a modern fa...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Home Purpose Built For A Woman And Her Cat!

A heritage cottage in Fitzroy North carefully restored and renovated by Atlas Architects.
Sasha Gattermayr

This Week

Stays

A Quaint Miner's Cottage In Dubbo Made For Slowing Down

A sympathetic renovation to a dilapidated 19th century cottage makes it the perfect regional getaway.
Sasha Gattermayr

Shopping

Create Your Own Salon Wall With These Affordable, Vintage-Inspired Artworks

Interior designer and stylist Jono Fleming pioneers a new affordable art alternative, with the launch of his limited-edition, stretched-canv...
Sasha Gattermayr

News

Vincent Namatjira Wins The 2020 Archibald Prize!

In a historic day for the Australian art world, the Aṉangu Pitjantjatjara Yankunytjatjara (APY) Lands artist and Western Arrernte man take...
Sally Tabart

Sustainable Homes

A Sustainable Inner-Suburban Home, Designed To Be Deconstructed + Reused

Rammed earth and recycled timber come together in this creekside Melbourne home by Breathe Architecture.

Interiors

Two Inspiring Kitchen Transformations - From Affordable Update To Complete Overhaul!

Lauren Li shows us what can be done in two very different kitchen renovations on two different budgets – one tiny, and one rather large!
Lauren Li

News

Jardan's Stunning New Perth Showroom Is A Terrazzo Palace!

The champions of modern Australian furniture design open the doors on their first West Coast flagship.

News

Achieve The Ultimate Heritage Aesthetic With These Affordable Window Shutters

Elevate  your interiors with these fully customisable, heritage style louvres from The Shutters Department!

News

This Enormous Collaborative Beach Artwork Is Actually A Protest

A group of Sunshine Coast-based creatives create an ephemeral work to protest government investment in gas and advocate for an Indigenous kn...
Sasha Aarons

Architecture

A Dramatic Riverfront Home In Tasmania

Views of the river, mountains and surrounding vegetation are all cleverly captured in this house at Otago Bay, by Topology Studio.

Textiles

The Mindboggling Artistry Of The Opera House's Nearly-Forgotten Tapestries

In a brand new podcast series, Australian design aficionado Tim Ross takes a closer look at the four enormous textiles by Le Corbusier, John...
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

An Open-Plan Home Partially Inspired By A Hitchcock Film!

Modo Architecture challenge the standard open floor plan in this Melbourne family home – taking partial inspiration from the house featur...
Amelia Barnes

Art

Intricate Bark Artwork From The 'Top End', On Show At Koskela

'Top End Bugi' at Koskela showcases 36 incredible bark artworks from three art centres in Arnhem Land.

Homes

A Creative Couple's Lovingly Renovated 1950's Home

Lucy Spartalis and Alastair Innes of She Takes Pictures He Makes Films share their renovated 1950s home in Victoria’s Dandenong Ranges.

Gardens

A Dreamy, Generous Coastal Garden

This Mollymook property's incredible front garden by Dangar Barin Smith has inadvertently become a local tourist destination.

Design Eye

Mardi Doherty on The 80’s Revival Interior

From bold colour, to chunky, curvy furniture forms, the 1980s is back, baby! Interior Designer Mardi Doherty gives us her take, in partnersh...

Similar Stories

Interiors

This Community-Minded Interior Is More Unique Than Meets The Eye

Sibling Architecture triumph with this flexible home / work interior, to cater for all bodies and accessibility requirements.
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Space-Efficient Family Home Filled With Colour (+ The Brightest Bathroom EVER)

This family home in Preston has the fizzy sherbert palette of a lolly jar, but with all the trimmings of a modern family home!
Sasha Gattermayr

Architecture

A Home Purpose Built For A Woman And Her Cat!

A heritage cottage in Fitzroy North carefully restored and renovated by Atlas Architects.
Sasha Gattermayr

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.