The Suntrap House Soaks Up Daylight and Celebrates Australia's Landscape

The Suntrap House Soaks Up Daylight and Celebrates Australia's Landscape

By Michele Koh Morollo
Smart design and reclaimed materials create a striking, eco-friendly home in the Sydney suburb of Lewisham.

Simon Anderson, principal of Anderson Architecture, believes that a home’s livability begins and ends with its orientation, so that was the priority when he designed the Suntrap.

"Although the living areas were recently upgraded by past owners, the home functioned poorly thermally. The major living areas faced south, and were therefore dark, cold, and dimly lit. The excessively tall ceilings made them cavernous and unfriendly," says Anderson.

The home’s materials evoke the Australian landscape. Basaltina countertops echo Melbourne's blue stone, while bespoke joinery elements—including windows and stairs—are made with Australian hardwoods. The blackened timber that envelops the building and frames the kitchen evokes the black trunks of the Xanthorrhoea trees that now grow in the new courtyard.

A Coco Mini Pendant by Australian designer Kate Stokes hangs above the dining table. 

The owners of the federation-style heritage home are an environmentally conscious family who collect art. They wanted their home to embrace the Australian landscape while providing more space. They also sought to improve the home's connection to the backyard and to make the interiors brighter and warmer.

Anderson demolished the old addition, created a new and more expansive master bedroom on the first floor, and reduced the number of additional bedrooms to created a more spacious and modern 2,550-square-foot home. 

The "Green Concrete" floor is made of recycled material and cement replacement compounds, which greatly reduce its carbon footprint.

The living room features vintage Greta Jalk Danish armchairs. 

The communal areas are centered around a new northern courtyard with windows designed to draw sunlight into the heart of the home. This allows the family to sit at a new 16-foot-long kitchen island bench with the winter sun at their back. This design strategy doubled the thermal efficiency of the communal areas from 3.2 to 6.4 stars. 

A dining table by Jardan Melbourne.

The kitchen features countertops made from Artedomus Grigio Basaltina stone.

The new internal courtyard opens the heart of the home to the sun. Strategically placed eco-friendly concrete walls and hydronic heated flooring bring heat gain to the cold zones. Heavily insulated prefabricated wall and roof panels, and double-glazed windows ensure comfortable indoor temperatures, while new awnings allow sunlight to enter the home during the winter months. 

The walls are painted with zero-VOC biodegradable E-Color paint.

A staircase leads up from the common areas to the bedrooms.

Anderson reclaimed spotted gum from the old addition for the kitchen floor and cabinetry, and repurposed bricks from the old kitchen to add thermal mass to the wall in the backyard. This brick wall conceals a 1,400-liter tank that supplies rainwater to nourish the newly landscaped garden. 

It wasn’t till he was standing on the first floor framing during construction that Anderson noticed three church spires visible from this level. "It just so happened that as you move around the top floor you do get glimpses of the spires, which is a lovely aspect," he says.

Anderson installed fans in the upstairs bedroom and incorporated operable windows for cross ventilation. In-slab hydronic heating supplements warmth provided by the winter sun.

In the garden, a horticulturist included native plants that encourage birdlife and other local fauna. In the internal courtyard, the trunks of Xanthorrhoea trees echo the addition’s blackened timber cladding. 

The bathroom features an Astra Walker A69.10.V2.A shower arm.

Another bathroom features an Astra Walker A69.48 Icon shower fixture in aged brass.

"Our gorgeous, cantilevered stair detail adds a sculptural element alongside the courtyard, but it also lets in beautiful morning sun as the family sits at the kitchen bench for breakfast," says Anderson. 

Suntrap House first floor plan

Suntrap House upper floor and roof plan

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record, Interior Design, Cabinetry, Lighting Design: Anderson Architecture / @anderson_architecture

Builder: Maison Constructions 

Structural and Civil Engineering: Partridge

Landscape Design: Mallee Design

Landscaping: Earth Stone Wood Landscape


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