Upside-Down Back-To-Front

A seismic shift in thinking was needed to resolve the disparity in levels and layout of this 1880s Sydney terrace. The site addresses two streets in Balmain with a two full storey's height difference between them. Our redesign simplified access and created a unique entry and processional experience.


Location Rozelle, NSW - Traditional Custodians: Wann Peoples
Completion 2012

Our Team

Shaun Carter
Lisa Merkesteyn


Engineering Cardno
Photography Castle + Beatty
Photography Archishot


Houses Awards, Alterations & Additions Under 200m2 Shortlist

A private stone-walled courtyard is where studio and house meet on level ground.

The design strategy formalised the clients’ existing way of occupying the house by relocating entry to the lower rear boundary and stretching living spaces across the site. A steel-framed studio/garage was designed to address the lower street and offer secure entry into the compound. A stairwell leads up to a sheltered courtyard that connects studio and house.

Inside, a fine staircase leads to the sleeping level, where a light shaft stitches together old and new sections of the house. Suspended into the roof gable, an ovoid timber pod encapsulates the luxurious master ensuite - the home’s highest point and most intimate of spaces, where operable roof skylights offers city views.

Materials reflect the tectonics of the house – steel and stone, concrete and timber – infused with light and landscape.

Related Projects