Located in a Heritage Conservation Zone in Sydney’s inner city, the Erskineville Creature was conceived of as a ‘pet’ like structure to the rear of a Victorian terrace house. Created as an independent dwelling for her grown children, with cooking and bathing facilities, the creature provides flexibility to the home in the modes of occupation available to the client.
The Creature is elevated above the ground plane, on bird like steel legs, and open on three sides, accomodating on-site parking below and permitting daylight access to the house’s private open space beyond. The openness of the ground floor unites the undercroft with the main courtyard, extending the perceptible size of the small inner-city lot.
Concealed ‘wing’ like hatches and doorways open to reveal a warm and private interior whose outlook orientates itself to the rear street and sky above. The terracotta interior defines the main studio living space whilst a painted datum of white to the walls continues onto the ceiling to define the pop up skylight roof zone which gives the otherwise compact studio a welcome sense of relief and height. A concealed kitchenette and ensuite are accommodated within a robe like space to the perimeter of the studio.
Built in a cost-effective manner through a hybrid of steel and conventional fibre cement clad timber framing, the Creature provides a response to the pressures placed upon space and the realities of home ownership in the inner-city. The existing site contained an open brick garage to the rear of the two storey terrace with a dark paved courtyard between. The client’s original brief was to refurbish the terrace’s kitchen, flooring and rear facade to bring more light into the interior whilst providing an additional bedroom space for her eldest daughter. With a restricted budget an isolated approach, in terms of new build impacts, was adopted in which the additional bedroom space was provided to the rear street in the form of a secondary dwelling. This not only ensured that the new building works improved the most in need parts of the site but also provided further economic flexibility for the client in that the studio can be used for short term accomodation following her daughter leaving home.
The Heritage Conservation Area planning controls acknowledge the demands on space by permitting secondary dwellings to laneways; thus it is the rear of the terrace row that the excitement occurs. Here, the dwelling proudly announces itself on the streetscape cutting a clean and precise form against the hodgepodge collection of structures that ignore the public realm beyond. The thinly veiled garage gates invite a symbiotic - though filtered - relationship with the street. Shadows in the courtyard are animated by the activity of cars and passersby during the day, and an obscured glow of the house punctuates and warms the street at night. All the while the large picture window in the studio keeps a watchful eye.