Smart Design Studio - Sydney Architects


2023  Winner AIA NSW Award Interior Architecture

Amara comprises substantial alterations and additions to a two-storey freestanding Federation Arts and Crafts residence. Our design principles included the retention and restoration of the existing principal building form from the street, removing unsympathetic later rear additions, and creating a contemporary rear addition which is not visible from the street, respecting the character of the heritage conservation area. The renovation celebrates what was good about the old part of the house, while clearly expressing new work. The two distinct styles are linked by fine craftmanship and a restrained palette of materials.

A dramatic new double height glass box houses a kitchen and family room at ground level, overlooked by a study within a sculpted mezzanine level above. A seemingly frameless single pane of glass opens onto a pond/ pool with a single tree at the centre. This black granite waterbody runs the length of the rear elevation reflecting the sharp lines of the minimalist addition. The sliding doors are framed within a folded steel portal expressed externally. This motif runs throughout with profiled heritage timber architraves framing each of the original internal door openings while doorways in the new extension have a contemporary approach.

Tall openings separate the rear pavilion from the existing home, flooding light into the original part of the house. Formerly two apartments, the plan has been substantially rationalised with rooms opening off a central axis at ground and second levels. The corridors are lined with white linen panelling concealing two doors, one to a powder room, the other leading down to the basement complete with separate entry, wine cellar, laundry and gym.

The existing staircase has been retained and painted glossy white, with a waterfall art silk carpet lining the treads.  On the upper level, a suspended steel stair provides a counterpoint to the heritage feeling, a long skylight overhead highlighting its sculptural form. This leads to an additional bedroom in the attic of the rear pavilion, that opens out on to a roof terrace with sweeping views of Rushcutters Park.

New finishes and details have been selected to complement and enhance the architecture. Picture railings have been reinstated in the formal sitting and dining rooms, and the original fireplaces have been retained. The architecture and the furniture have been devised to work together to provide a strong but quiet framework for the owners’ impressive art collection. Waxed render features in the new and old sections of the house.


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