A mixed bag of buildings surrounds the quaint, yet unexceptional, bungalow that architect David Boyle was hired to renovate. Located in a largely industrial area just south of downtown Sydney, Australia, the house lacked the qualities that would make it an obvious candidate for preservation, but the architect and his clients decided to retain it nonetheless. It was part of the area's history, after all, and it made good environmental and fiscal sense to improve upon what was already there. “While the existing dwelling doesn't hold any particular heritage significance, it did make a positive contribution to the varied streetscape of terraces, warehouses, and freestanding bungalows typical to this inner-city suburb,” Boyle explains.

After deciding to convert the existing structure into bedrooms, Boyle looked to the sloping backyard to fulfill the homeowners' request for “wow factor” indoor-outdoor living areas and a light, modern aesthetic. “The stepped floor levels of the new work take advantage of the sloping site and ensure a direct relationship between the indoor and outdoor spaces,” he says of the addition he designed. A contained outdoor courtyard, meanwhile, controls “the visual and environmental climate of the new work.”

The living room sits a few steps above the kitchen/dining space, and both public areas segue directly out to their exterior counterparts. Rather than blur indoor-outdoor lines, Boyle made them disappear altogether with steel supports encasing floor-to-ceiling frameless glass. A flat roof at the site's highest plane turns into a shade-producing canopy, and the soaring ceiling's high glazing over the dining room “allows the living area to achieve northern sun even though it's located on the southern side,” he says.

An amorphously L-shaped, two-story garage and studio mitigate views of the warehouse-cum-condo building across the street and prevent curious neighbors from peeking into the un-private house. With the existing house and addition completing the U-shaped building footprint, only the northern exposure of the courtyard remains open.

Along with the human spaces, the clients' program required a cool place for their pet bunnies. Not wanting the hutch to be an afterthought, Boyle designed the addition's elevated living room floor to extend into the courtyard as a covered deck. The deck provides access to the raised studio space and protection for the spacious screened hutch nestled securely underneath it. In the end, it seems, all of the home's inhabitants benefited from Boyle's multilevel thinking.


Belmont Street Residence, Alexandria, Australia


David Boyle Architect, Pretty Beach, Australia

general contractor:

Jason Boyle Constructions, Sydney, Australia

structural engineer:

Patterson Britton & Partners, Sydney

project size:

1,722 square feet

site size:

0.07 acre

construction cost:



Murray Fredericks