Smart Design Studio - Sydney Architects

Nickson 61

Located at the meeting point of commercial and residential zones in vibrant Surry Hills, Nickson 61 presented an ideal opportunity for the adaptive reuse of existing building stock to provide a significant architectural contribution for the area. A corner block at the end of a row of terraces, the site contained a late-19th century terrace and a vacant end lot. This lot was originally occupied by a free-standing dwelling which had been demolished to make way for an access lane. This truncated the rhythm of the streetscape and the street corner lacked the definition it required to establish a strong connection between the adjacent commercial and residential properties.


The existing terrace speaks to the heritage of the area while the infill reinstates the bookend to the terrace row, reinforces the continuity of the streetscape, and gives character to the corner. This bookend adopts traditional brickwork construction to provide a dynamic, curved flanking element. The sculptural form is carefully considered to retain the expression of adjacent terrace envelope, while strategic slots in the fa├žade curve out to open to the street corner and sky.

Two new high-quality residential units are provided on the two upper floors. Residential entry to the building is via the front door of the existing terrace, ensuring privacy & separation from the corner commercial entry, while maintaining an active residential frontage to the street. The first-floor balcony overlooking Nickson St retains the existing terrace balcony. The upper floor level is within the existing roof form to retain the scale of the existing street frontage and established building pattern.


The small-scale ground floor commercial space is compatible with mixed-use of the area. The commercial entrance is located on the corner, highly visible and separate from the residential entry. The fully wheelchair accessible tenancy provides an active ground floor commercial use and a striking corner presence, reactivating the side and rear lanes. Along with the bold new infill, this establishes a dialogue between the commercial Cleveland St precinct to the south and the residential row to the north.

The building observes fundamental principles of energy efficiency and makes the most of passive thermal and solar design on a south-facing site. The additions provide improved access to natural light and ventilation for the residential dwellings including generous windows with northerly aspects to the rear. New walls have cavity insulation and the existing terrace roof has been retrofitted with insulation to improve thermal comfort. A below-ground rainwater tank was installed for water reuse.


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