Carter Williamson Architects

Upside-Down Back-To-Front House

Rozelle, 2012

2013 Houses Award for Alterations and Additions 200m2 – Shortlist

Project Team:
Shaun Carter
Lisa Merkesteyn

Landscape: Melissa Wilson Landscape Architects
Engineer: Cardno
Photography: Castle + Beatty, and Archishot


The site of this 1880s workers terrace falls two stories from Hartley Street down to Starling Street at the rear.

We formalised our clients’ existing living patterns by flipping the entry, and moving it to the bottom of the hill on the rear boundary, and as such the back-to-front nature of the additions was conceived.

From the front door, stairs climb towards a protected courtyard fitted snugly between the house and studio. The living spaces on the central level stretch across the length of the site, from the sandstone lightwell, through the house, garden and studio, creating a generosity of space unexpected on such a tightly constrained site.

From the gregarious living spaces a delicate hanging stair disappears up to the quieter sleeping rooms above where a shaft for light and breeze separates the form of the existing house and the new addition.

Inserted into the tall pitched volume of the existing roof form above the front bedrooms hangs the voluptuous, timber clad form of the loft ensuite above. This intimate space sits at the highest point of the house and skylight windows frame views out toward the city.