Unmistakable identity

Each of the four townhouses in this development was designed to maximise the available floor area without compromising privacy or individuality
Story by: Colleen Hawkes
View of open plan living and dining area home, house, interior design, living room, property, real estate, gray
View of open plan living and dining area featuring black leather sofa, tiled floors, dining table and chairs.

New boutique townhouse developments are invariably a balancing act. On one hand, there's the desire to maximise a site's architectural potential, while on the other there's the need to accommodate local government regulations designed to protect the existing character of an established residential neighbourhood.

This townhouse project, by architects Brian Meyerson and Michael Hay of Brian Meyerson Architects, Sydney, required a number of specific design solutions. Meyerson says although the site could legally accommodate four townhouses, its North Bondi location demanded a high standard of fit-out. There was a need to provide separate entries, three bedrooms, double garaging and outdoor courtyards for each unit all on a relatively small block of land.

"It was essential that each townhouse have its own identity," says Meyerson. "The design needed to fit with the low and informal style of the freestanding Californian bungalows and red brick houses in the immediate neighbourhood. We wanted to create a model for smaller family homes that would satisfy people's desire for a patch of their own, while avoiding multi-unit blocks in areas where they are not suited."

Meyerson says the resulting design was based on the traditional terrace housing model, which was updated and adjusted to ensure a better balance of privacy and solar access both for the residences and neighbours.

To provide a maximum floor area with minimum visual impact, the garaging is hidden in a basement. This means there is only one driveway and no garaging fronting the street. However, each house has its own pedestrian entry, plus an entry from the basement.

In addition to two main floors, each house also has an attic floor with a third bedroom, tucked back from the front of the building.


Exterior view of town house featuring cantilevered balconies apartment, building, elevation, estate, facade, home, house, mansion, property, real estate, residential area, villa, blue
Exterior view of town house featuring cantilevered balconies with glass balustrades, zinc roofing.

"Although the townhouses extend over four levels, from the street they appear as two-storey terraces," says Meyerson. "Separate bays help modulate the visual impact of the facade, ensuring it doesn't seem oversized compared to neighbouring properties."

The architect says the terraces are somewhat traditional in arrangement, but the deep recesses on the front of the building allow light and air to penetrate deeply into each house.

"Light filters right down through the stair void to reach the spaces below. Privacy is also maintained by ensuring there are no windows overlooking the courtyards."

The front facade of each terrace features a punched steel screen, powdercoated in a specific colour that helps differentiate the properties.

"These screens bring a sense of individuality to each house," says Meyerson. "They also cast richly patterned shadows across the interiors in the late afternoon."

External aluminium louvre blinds on the first floor of each terrace are another screening device that helps animate the front of the building. The automated louvres also provide privacy and reduce heat loads on the glass of the rooms facing west.

View of kitchen with tiled floors and glass architecture, floor, flooring, house, interior design, real estate, gray, brown
View of kitchen with tiled floors and glass topeed dining table.

The contemporary design elements continue on the interior. Even though they were working with a tight floorplan, the architects provided separation for the entry and living area. Glazing is another key feature, with all terraces having extensive glazing on the east and west. This arrangement also provides cross ventilation, so there is seldom a need for air conditioning.

The end townhouse, featured on these pages, has two additional narrow bands of glazing on the northern side, and sliding doors opening to a landscaped outdoor living area and pool. Two banks of cabinetry are suspended above the window bands, secured by steel beams.

Because the living area is open plan, the kitchen was designed as a piece of furniture, with appliances integrated into the timber veneer cabinetry where possible.

A stone and steel staircase leads to the master suite and second bedroom on the first floor, and the third bedroom on the second floor.

Dec 15, 2010

Credit list

Builder and developer
Trinium Group
Kitchen manufacturer
Tiling
Livingtiles
Doors and windows
Alspec
Louvres
Turner Bros
Kitchen cabinetry
Eveneer; polyurethane
Splashback
Stainless steel
Kitchen appliances
Miele
Bathroom vanity
Carrara marble
Interior and kitchen designer
Roofing
Zinc
Paints and varnishes
Dulux
Door and window hardware
AMA Windows and Doors
Home automation
Clipsal C-Bus
Benchtops
Calacatta stone
Sink
Franke
Bathroomware
Rogerseller
We know the specialists