Sandwiched between 14 adjacent properties, The Balmain House in Sydney, Australia is the result of the conversion of a workers’ cottage. The house was specially designed by Fox Johnston as a series of open and closed spaces, in order to serve as a comfortable modern living space for a young family. A sculpted timber volume floats above the bottom level accommodating the main bedroom, library/gallery and study.
The social areas are located downstairs and are well connected to the outdoor space: “Spatially, we have used the small block to maximize advantage, setting up a dialogue between the garden space and the interior living areas to create the illusion of a bigger site. Each downstairs living room – interior and exterior- borrows space from the other, maximizing volume, light and air“. Sustainable features of the project include recycled building materials, a natural ventilation system and hydronic heating.
The best architects can create designs which will give clients and the public things they didn’t even realise they wanted, and this is especially important when architects are given the difficult brief of creating structures in much-loved, iconic areas.
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.