Hill Top Cottage


Weaving architectural heritage with contemporary design and lifestyle is a practice that rewards with surprises and character filled places. In a conservative residential pocket close to North Sydney, a workers cottage perches on top of a hill looking south-east towards striking views of Sydney Harbour. The idea behind the design was to retain the existing character of the cottage to the front – its low slung and strong horizontal lines – and place a more contemporary two storey addition at the back behind the ridge. The new upper level is fully clad with CNC routed plywood shutters, it pierces the ample roof plane to the front of the house with a wide dormer window that is curved at the corners. Internally, the skill of Associate Architect, Sean Johnson and Interior Designer, Romaine Alwill has successfully married the old and the new: polished concrete and the existing dark timber floors, oversized glass sliding windows and the original leadlight sashes. A semi-transparent perforated black steel staircase cascades down through the centre of the house, from an openable skylight in the roof to the ground floor, allowing generous amounts of light to bathe the entrance hall. The young family who own the cottage hoped to be welcomed by their neighbours, but were met instead with dozens of objections to the design, and a tough council process. However, with hard work to convince the community and the vision and support of key Council representatives, the design was approved with some small modifications (the addition of steps to the rear façade and a redesign of the garage door). Today the family can enjoy their views of the Harbour Bridge and have found acceptance in their community.

Lisa La Pointe artwork “Magi” brings life to the restful dark “Half Masala” Resene paint.
This sitting area is in the old house, a smaller room off the living-dining at the back.
An Aren Bianco limestone texture and limed American oak again offer tonal and textured balance.
The kids’ bathroom “cubby house” feel was accidental, being located in the existing roof space for convenience.
An unusual suite of Powder Room and Guest Bathroom, with a mill finish.
Why not have a chandelier in your dressing room? The Douglas + Bec “Y” brass and blown glass light feels at home here.
The dressing room joinery was designed by the project architect, Sean Johnson & Romaine Alwill in collaboration and...
The limed American Oak wall panelling behind the bed provides a textured neutral backdrop to Romaine Alwill’s fabrics...
Sydney Harbour Bridge view from the bed reflected in the Dedece Bertoia “Diamond” reading chair.
Stairway to...
The various components of the stair were assembled on site by EJF...
From the first floor landing the stair rises to the roof access hatch. This flight is suspended from the roof frame.
The perforated steel is finished with a clear lacquer over the raw “black” steel, a mill finish of the mild steel.
The stair is the lightwell in the centre of the house, leading to generous openable skylights.
This American Oak bookshelf has CNC routed books as vertical support, complete with book spine and bound covers.
The Romaine Alwill selected CULT table and chairs provide warmth and complement the polished concrete slab, anthracite...
Full length sheer curtains soften the living room corner window, high ceilings contrast with the horizontal window...
The curved glass allows uninterrupted views off the living room.
The “garden city” ideal town planning concept of the early 20th Century, connected to the “Craftsman” style has been...
The oversized living room window opening is framed and protected by an off form concrete lintel, and a slab of polished...
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