When a young couple approached Sydney, Australia–based design firm Architect George about renovating a dark and dated single-story home on a narrow lot in the suburb of Newtown, they challenged the architects to create a comfortable, light-filled two-level home that connects to nature. "The house occupies one of the smallest and most awkward sites you could come across as an architect," says Dean Williams of Architect George. "But it benefits from great sunlight and proximity to a community park and garden, and urban amenities."
The new design—which measures just 645 square feet and features two bedrooms and two bathrooms—rises like a minimalist sculpture out of the center of its varied urban context. "It’s adjacent to a busy train line and beneath a flight path," Williams says. "There’s a lot going on in a very dense inner-city environment."
The lot is situated within a terrace row on a triangular block, and it’s marked by 13 angled boundaries. "It’s a lot compared to the typical four boundaries you see with urban street patterns," Williams says. "The design had to rationalize these angles, the small site, and the urban context."
The architect responded to the complexity of the site by using the angles as opportunities to tie the rooms to the outdoors. "The house is modest in size, so it was important to create indoor/outdoor connections that would increase the sense of space," Williams says.
The architect employed large double-glass doors in the dining area to connect the first level (where the open-plan common areas are located) to the sun-drenched rear courtyard and a much-loved community park beyond it. "The courtyard is a continuation of the interior living spaces," the architect says. "There’s also an interior light-well garden located between the kitchen, dining, and bathroom that brings lots of natural light into the home and provides an immediate connection to greenery."
Shop the Look
The bathroom on the first level brings more greenery and sunlight to the public areas. "A new, smaller bathroom is positioned within a triangular portion of the site on the ground floor," Williams says.
The exterior of the first-level bathroom, clad in pale-gray concrete brick, juts out into the rear courtyard. "It’s an element that’s somewhat sculptural," says Williams, who topped the space with a living roof. "The green roof provides a much-loved outlook for one of the bedrooms on the second level," the architect says.
The first-level bathroom has a curved shower area with a skylight, which provides the feeling of an outdoor shower. "The ground-floor plan responds to the objectives of the brief, which was to provide living areas that connect to sunlight and greenery," Williams says.
The architect selected an all-white palette for the interior walls to let the greenery, sunlight, and textured finishes take center stage. "The uniformity of color, and the minimal form add a sculptural element and offset the layers of graffiti and urban life that surround the home," he says.
Williams maintained much of the existing house’s structure and footprint, changing only the arrangement of the rooms and removing unwanted walls that blocked natural light and chopped up the space. "The reworkings were minor, but they improved the plan dramatically," he says.
The new home’s footprint is slightly smaller, but it features rooms that are practical in size. "The living areas are perfectly large enough, and with the connection to the courtyard, the ground floor effectively doubled in size," Williams says. "The site afforded no room to spare, so—like when building a finely constructed boat—we focused on using every millimeter of space available to create a comfortable home."
Construction: Pacific Projects
Photography: Clinton Weaver
Stay up to Date on the Latest in Tiny Homes
Discover small spaces filled with big ideas—from clever storage solutions to shape-shifting rooms.