From the Street Green House by Carter Williamson Architects takes its cues from nearby raking roof-forms, matching alignments and setbacks to compose a facade that is both contemporary and sympathetic to the streetscape. The single storey street frontage belies the generous two-storey home concealed behind the modest ridge-line of this Sydney home. In this case, the Green House effect is the impact light and air can make to a family home for a florist…
The site falls by two storeys from Hartley St to the lane at the rear. Creating a unified living plane was one of the key design aims of the project. Kitchen, living and dining open onto a courtyard-like garden with a studio sitting atop the garage at the rear boundary, creating an amphitheatre back to the main house.
Light and Air
Though the site has a double frontage, it was challenged for light and series of voids, courtyards and light-wells have been designed to bring light and air into the home. The tiled courtyard off the florist’s workshop and living space is cool and restful, whilst a tiny light-well with cascading planting addressing the two-storey stair draws in snatches of bright northern light. At the rear the house is cleaved in two by an internal light-well and glazed void which swallows light deep into the home and defines the open plan spaces of the ground floor.
Restful Private Zone
Upstairs the spaces are quiet and restful; bedrooms and a secluded, contemplative library divided by a glazed void with views to the sky.
Reducing Carbon Footprint
This home was built with a 'build-it-once and once only' approach, designed to amortise the embodied energy of its parts and materials over a long life-span. Although it is generously sized, it is spatially efficient. The plan also allows the owners to work from home, reducing the frequency of their commute.
The clients invested in ideas like the green mosaic tiles, face bricks and timber windows which give the home so much of its colour and character. Though these items appear expensive at face value, long-term they are financially and environmentally efficient choices. With a long life-span and their inherent robustness reducing the need for intensive, ongoing maintenance.
Flexibility on a Small Footprint
One of the great successes of this home is that it accommodates a wide range of activities in a relatively small footprint; well suited to the owners' lifestyles. There is plenty of room to grow their family and to house their steady flow of overseas visitors as well as a home office and florists studio — both of which can be converted to additional bedrooms or living spaces as required.
Though the home has a strong sense of connection to the outdoors, the external spaces are compact and constrained. Landscaping was particularly important to our client who works as florist, it needed to be low maintenance but also provide colour and texture to the home.
A collaboration with Melissa Wilson Landscape Architects maximised the potential of the outdoor spaces and addressed a variety of tricky microclimates. It included the creation of bespoke timber garden boxes that hang in the shady, green courtyard, adding to the lush feel of the space.
Passive Heating and Cooling
The home operates passively through much of the year with the courtyard plan and glazed light-well providing myriad opportunities for cross-ventilation and abundant natural light.
Locus of Family Life
A generous timber island anchors the living spaces of the home; part workspace, part sculpture and impromptu dinner table, it is the locus for family life.
"Our clients' busy lives meant that it was important the home was low maintenance. The house is clothed in robust face brick and glass mosaic tiles that are easily hosed down to wash away accumulations of salt and dirt and which provide colour and texture to the building and give it a playful, graphic patterning.
The clients are thrilled that the most common compliment they get from visitors is about the quality of light throughout the home. The old house had been dark and damp and it was key to the brief that the new home dispel these associations."