This Japanese-Inspired House in Sydney Defies a Triangular Site
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This Japanese-Inspired House in Sydney Defies a Triangular Site

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By Lucy Wang
A challenging site prompts studioplusthree to get creative to bring light, views, and improved energy efficiency to this renovated abode.

Opportunity knocked for the founders of studioplusthree, an award-winning, Sydney–based architecture practice that had not yet been established when the commission for a family home fell into the founding team’s lap.

In what co-founder and director Simon Rochowski calls "something of a leap of faith," the clients asked the young architects to transform an existing dwelling into a family haven for entertaining and socializing—no easy feat given the challenging site conditions and dearth of outdoor space.

Completed in 18 months, the Platform House is named after the new cypress-clad "living platform" that adds light, air, and space to the home.

Completed in 18 months, the Platform House is named after the new cypress-clad "living platform" that adds light, air, and space to the home.

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"The biggest challenge with this project was the tight triangular site, and the project was developed largely in response to this condition," says Rochowski of the 2,131-square-foot abode, dubbed the Platform House. "Rather than seeing it as a problem, though, the house embraces this constraint, with the first-floor volume following this geometry, which also finds its way into details throughout the house, such as window reveals and bench seating."

To keep costs low, few changes were made to the existing structure beyond the removal of an "unsympathetic" addition to make room for an outdoor garden and deck. Inside, the ground floor was reconfigured to house four bedrooms and two baths, while the living spaces were moved to the new extension upstairs.

In the master bathroom, dark stone differentiates the space from the rest of the bright interiors. All bathrooms include electric underfloor heating.

In the master bathroom, dark stone differentiates the space from the rest of the bright interiors. All bathrooms include electric underfloor heating.

The bathroom is fitted out with Tudo & Co pendant lights, a Caroma Urbane toilet, Studio Bagno Manhattan basins, and Phoenix Vivid tapware.

The bathroom is fitted out with Tudo & Co pendant lights, a Caroma Urbane toilet, Studio Bagno Manhattan basins, and Phoenix Vivid tapware.

Rochowski continues: "The triangular site shapes not only the form of the house, but also the program—social living spaces are upstairs and the more private bedrooms are downstairs in an inversion of the typical domestic arrangement. This gives the first floor a beautiful sense of light, views, and horizon throughout the day."

A Sipa Fold Rectangular Table and Sipa armchairs in natural ash outfit the dining area.

A Sipa Fold Rectangular Table and Sipa armchairs in natural ash outfit the dining area.

Sheathed in charred cypress, the new extension delivers a degree of drama to the home with its pointed, cantilevered form that juts out to provide shelter to the deck below.

The extension's dark cypress cladding was charred on-site by hand.

The extension's dark cypress cladding was charred on-site by hand.

In contrast to the dark facade, the open-plan living spaces within are enveloped in warmth, thanks to the abundance of glazing that bathes the interior white walls and pale timber furnishings in sunlight along with views of the tree canopy. An elevated deck to the north extends the living space outdoors.

To keep energy use naturally low, the living spaces are oriented towards the north while deep eaves and walls with R-25 insulation mitigate solar gain. Large windows let in cooling cross breezes and include built-in, operable shading devices.

To keep energy use naturally low, the living spaces are oriented towards the north while deep eaves and walls with R-25 insulation mitigate solar gain. Large windows let in cooling cross breezes and include built-in, operable shading devices.

The north-facing outdoor deck is bordered by a continuous element that incorporates planting, outdoor seating, a privacy screen, and storage.

The north-facing outdoor deck is bordered by a continuous element that incorporates planting, outdoor seating, a privacy screen, and storage.

"The project really came out of a lot of influences from other areas of design and culture that both ourselves and the client were exposed to at that time, such as Katsura Imperial Villa in Kyoto, which involves framing particular views of landscape through architecture," Rochowski adds. "This also brought the feeling of simplicity, almost austerity, to the interior of the house, so that it serves as a backdrop or canvas for the light, greenery and views that surround it." 

The kitchen extends almost seamlessly to the outdoors thanks to a continued material palette, from the engineered timber flooring to the Corian Glacier ice countertops and Maximum Michelangelo Matte backsplash.

The kitchen extends almost seamlessly to the outdoors thanks to a continued material palette, from the engineered timber flooring to the Corian Glacier ice countertops and Maximum Michelangelo Matte backsplash.

A series of sliding, perforated, bronze screens let in dappled light while providing privacy and protection from the sun.

A series of sliding, perforated, bronze screens let in dappled light while providing privacy and protection from the sun.

A view of the immense fig tree on the west side of the site through the perforated bronze screen.

A view of the immense fig tree on the west side of the site through the perforated bronze screen.

Platform House ground floor plan

Platform House ground floor plan

Platform House first floor plan

Platform House first floor plan

Platform House elevation

Platform House elevation

Project Credits:

Interior Designer: studioplusthree / @studioplusthree

Builder/ General Contractor: Everest Construction

Structural Engineer: Cantilever Consulting Engineers

Landscape Design Company: Kiwi Green

Cabinetry Design/ Installation:  Scribework (fabrication + installation)

Planner: PCN Consulting

Building Certifier: Peter Boyce