Grand Designs Australia: An iconic terrace transformer

Grand Designs Australia: An iconic terrace transformer


An iconic terrace is peeled back and put back together again

Terrace houses are integral to the Sydney ethos, lining the streets with history and character. Architect Annabelle Chapman secured herself a diamond in the rough that had been stripped of its original details, but this didn’t stop her from drawing up a plan to rebuild the residence and restore it to its former glory.

They say visualisation is the key to making things happen, and in this case it certainly worked. Before Annabelle took the leap and purchased the Paddington house in 2013, she designed it in its entirety — essentially turning her vision into reality. “The final design was almost identical to the initial sketch plan,” she says. The terrace was renovated for the worse in the ’70s, with the removal of original internal details and some external details, too, but when life gives you lemons, make lemonade — or in this case, start from scratch. The brief revolved around creating a three-bedroom, three-bathroom house (it was originally two bedrooms) on different levels for Annabelle and her family.

“The brief also included the total renovation of all the living areas, which resulted in the demolition and rebuilding of the entire house, keeping only the existing front and side walls of the terrace,” says Annabelle. “I wanted to create a contemporary space using steel, recycled ironbark and concrete as the main materials. As it was a terrace house, with an internal width of just over 4 metres, it was important to design the space with minimalism.”

Beginning the project in January 2015, the build was a collaborative effort and the home was signed, sealed and delivered in February 2016. “I had great rapport with the builder and all the workmen on the project,” says Annabelle. “I was on-site almost every day for an hour or so in the morning on my way to work.”

One of the greatest parts of building a new house is seeing it all come together, and thanks to the heavy use of concrete in the design, the architect was able to bear witness to the home coming to life. “My favourite parts of the project were the concrete pours, as the building changed quickly and the floors were instantly created,” she says. “Additionally, the arrival and installation of the steel stairs was very exciting. The stairs came in five large sections and were hand-welded on-site by five Italians muttering together with the odd cigarette hanging out of their mouths!”

Broken up into common and private sections, the living area is the hub of the home and features the steel staircase which leads to the upper three levels that house the bedrooms. “The staircase provides a sculptural element to the space,” says Annabelle. “There’s also a light well filling the house with uninterrupted northern light.”

The kitchen and dining room are located half a level down from the central living room, but all the spaces are connected by the same vein. “The floors, walls and ceilings to the kitchen and living areas are predominantly polished and off-form concrete,” explains Annabelle. “Aluminium sliding doors stack away and open up the rear section of the house to the polished concrete rear terrace.”

Far from being a one-trick pony, the Paddington Terrace isn’t just special because of its enviable location — it’s a compact capsule of the essence of Sydney living. Thoughtful in its approach, the home is minimalist in design but maximalist at heart.

Written by Annabelle Cloros

Originally in Grand Designs Australia Volume 6 Issue 3