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A 3-Metre-Wide Micro-Terrace Inspired By Its Redfern Surrounds

Architecture

Most people assume that the challenge of living in a small space is the lack of storage solutions! Few think about another conundrum altogether: access to the outdoors.

When Adele McNab purchased this 62-square-metre property in Redfern four years ago, she was determined to make a case for functional, breezy micro-terrace living that included great connection to greenery. By inserting a courtyard at the centre of the house and drawing on the character of the local neighbourhood for material inspiration, Adele crafted a home that feels tactile, bright and cool.

3rd November, 2021

Archways rather than doors create seamless internal transition points. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

From the exterior, this Redfern micro-terrace looks like it could be somewhere in Japan! Photo – Clinton Weaver.

‘Space efficiency techniques overcame the challenging scale of the site,’ explains Adele. ‘Every space has multiple uses such as the inclusion of an in-situ bench seat and awning window that doubles as rain protection. This enables year-round courtyard use and an opportunity to extend the length of the kitchen.’ Photo – Clinton Weaver.

Adele looked to the neighbourhood for palette inspiration. This pendant light is the same shade as the surrounding Redfern rooftops. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

This grass tree in the central courtyard anchors the entire home, providing greenery and organic form and texture to nearly every room of the house. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

The operable kitchen windows extend the kitchen in two ways: by opening an enclosed space to the outdoors, and creating rain cover so meals can be eaten outside on the in-built bench. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

The front living room can be sealed off with the sweeping floor-to-ceiling curtain. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

Light pours in to this minimal space from the original front windows. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

A spiral staircase leads upstairs to the main bedroom and bathroom. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

Timber framed French doors open the main bedroom to the balcony, which provides a connection to greenery to the one room that doesn’t face the internal courtyard. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

Discrete shelving wraps one wall of the bedroom. Laminex AbsoluteMatte panels in Surf. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

The bathroom looks out onto the central courtyard. ‘Cloud Study’ by Todd Mcmillan. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

Different styles of tile create a tactile feast. Zellige glazed bathroom tile from Eco Outdoor. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

Adele has pushed the house right up to the rear perimeter, where it backs onto a laneway. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

A second bathroom sits in this laneway building. Photo – Clinton Weaver.

Sasha Gattermayr
Wednesday 3rd November 2021

‘The living rooms were previously dark and cold, so the courtyard was important to enable natural light to filter into all parts of the terrace throughout the day.’ – Adele McNab

When architect Adele McNab purchased this compact home in Redfern for her small family, it was dilapidated and uninhabitable. The floors sagged and the rear lean-to was falling apart to such a severe extent that the demolition contractors were perplexed as to how it remained standing at all.

As soon as she could, Adele set out to transform it into a clean, serene family home with seamless connection to the outdoors.

Given its mere 3-metre width, the layout required incredible precision. The ground floor of the main house contains only two rooms: at the front a living room that can be sealed off via a sweeping floor-to-ceiling curtain, followed by the kitchen with integrated shelving and operable windows opening to the all-important courtyard. Adele calls this outdoor space ‘the heart of the house’.

‘The living rooms were previously dark and cold, so the courtyard was important to enable natural light to filter into all parts of the terrace throughout the day,’ she says. ‘This was important not only for practical reasons but particularly to help nurture my family’s mental wellbeing.’

The grass tree at the centre of this courtyard anchors the whole site, providing greenery and an organic shape against the concrete floors, textured walls and hardwood timber frames of the rest of the house. The upstairs bathroom looks down onto this opening, while the main bedroom opens to the stately trees on the street beyond.

Through this courtyard lies a multifunctional laneway room disconnected from the main house, which can be either a home studio, guest quarters or a second living room.

Materials were carefully chosen to provide interest within the small space without overwhelming its proportions. The original home’s bricks were incorporated in the palette for the new design, while the bathroom door and kitchen pendant light radiate the same red hue as the surrounding Redfern rooftops.

‘With this project, I took the opportunity to trial new layout configurations, pushing boundaries with light, space and connections with the outdoors in the hope to inspire other people living in micro-terraces,’ explains Adele.

Undoubtedly, she has succeeded!

See more projects from Adele McNab Architecture here.

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