Machiya House: Blending Old and New In A Sydney Heritage Area

Located in Balmain’s the Iron Cove Heritage Conservation Area, Sydney, Machiya  House renovated by Downie North Architects. The concept was actually inspired by a traditional Japanese townhouse in Kyoto called Machiya.

machiya house front part

The architecture team intended to offer a contemporary dwelling that co-exists with the street and the heritage area. Previously, this semi-detached home was disconnected with the outdoors as well as lack of light and space.

machiya house front part 2

In this renovation, the homeowners wanted a new master retreat, study, ensuite, and remodeling of the main spaces like the living room, dining area, and the kitchen. All was done with minimum expansion to the building footprint. In result, the main areas were reconfigured within the L-shaped footprint. The final reconfiguration ultimately offers a seamless connection to the existing courtyard.

the main area connects together within the l-shaped footprint

In order to minimize the change to the original footprint, the new study area is sort of hidden under the original roofline as a mezzanine loft. It can be accessed by a ladder.

hidden study room

Every space is characterized as a distinct volume where they are spatially layered and playfully connected. It’s created to share daylight, views, and delight.

a distinct volume characterization

To respect the heritage of the area, traces and layers of the past are intentionally exposed through form and materiality.

traces of the past are exposed outside

For instance, these exposed brick walls represent the old part of the house. Taking this method actually brings benefits, cost-wise and environmental-wise.

traces of the past in interior part

In addition, operable windows and skylights allow passive cooling and heating in the home. This offers openings that draw daylight and green views into the interior. This arrangement is actually important in order to engage the building with the public domain.

operable windows to allow passive cooling and heating

From the outside, the house is covered with standing seam metal cladding, while the laneway is covered with a veil of hardwood battens and framed in galvanized steel. This is a courtesy to Balmain’s industrial history.

draws the views in and connect with the outside view

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