In Sydney’s quiet suburb of Newtown, Strawberry House sits tucked among terrace houses, backing onto a quiet laneway. Formerly two terraces itself, Strawberry House is an alterations and additions project that amalgamated the two independent houses, and while the restored street-facing facades give the impression of two houses, the rear addition from beyond the roof ridge line is a series of generous spaces filled with natural light and a connection to outside.

With a unique brief, the clients were after all the comforts good architecture enjoys in addition to elements to match their lifestyle, such as a fully function workshop, full C-BUS smart-home integration, custom dog-wash station and a long-distance radio-antenna array. By working with the clients and their distinctive design brief, an outcome of warm, honest spaces was achieved. The previously dark, cluttered, narrow terraces have been transformed into a spacious, light-filled home with a strong connection to the outdoors with full natural ventilation.

While the front facades and bedrooms have been fully restored, the rest of the home has been transformed completely. Just beyond, an Australian hardwood staircase leads upstairs to a homely study the width of the building, with outlook over the back extension and towards the Redfern train line. Between the generously proportioned bathrooms and Living / Kitchen space are two courtyards that act as light-wells to the front and rear building sections ensuring all the occupied spaces of the home have full access to natural light. One courtyard is covered with translucent panels, effectively situated as an interior garden that provides green outlook to the house and features plants that improve the air quality of the home, and the other courtyard is adjacent to the kitchen, exposed and uncovered.

Operable louvre windows allow full ventilation from this courtyard through the living space to the rear façade, providing energy-free thermal control of the space. Exhibiting a deeply warm plywood ceiling, the Living & Kitchen extension uses a clever lighting scheme to create a uniquely Australian material palette, featuring Australian recycled hardwood timbers, floorboards, joinery and a stainless steel kitchen benchtop maximising the robustness of the space. A balcony sits just off the rear façade, covered by a fibre-cement sheet and gridded FRP awning, and looking out onto the massive decades old Irish Strawberry tree from which the home claims its name, originally planted by the clients when they first moved into the property.