21 one-bed and one-bed plus study apartments and 1 two-bedroom house

The context of the development is a site at the southern edge of the Parramatta City Centre, an area undergoing great change. Many of the neighbouring sites now have large scale multi-family housing; a number of the neighbouring sites have heritage-listed single-storey dwellings addressing the street; some sites have both. The existing cottages are expected to remain, to retain the existing scale of the street front, but they are not to constrain the development of the site with a typical heritage curtilage. Instead, the desired future character of the area is a more complicated marriage of old and new, one that retains the small-scale domestic architecture on the street front, with taller multi-dwelling residential buildings behind.

The development is to retain the cottage at the front of the site and provide 21 apartments in a pair of a small footprint buildings at the rear of the site. The design of the apartments responds appropriately to the site conditions, articulating the project as two distinct buildings with different urban presences:

    To the street, the house is restored and its front and side gardens are reinstated;
    To the rear, a new discrete building is sited, close to the back boundary to create separation with the house. This building’s scale relates directly to the new apartment buildings nearby.

The apartment proposal forms a contrasting pair of small footprint buildings, articulated in plan, section and elevation.
The built form has variety within this overall logic, as each part expresses its own organisation, character and material.
The calm horizontal lines of the balcony edges and parapets contrasts with the deep insets of the vertical slots and balconies.
At ground level there is a double height undercroft to mediate between the scale of the house and the apartment building behind. This visually reduces the scale of the building and provides a “backdrop” to the heritage item.

The presence of the heritage-listed house to the street is retained, and its streetscape presence enhanced: the fences, paths and verandahs are all reinstated, car-parking spaces removed and the gardens re-established.

The position of the house means it is impossible to provide car-parking on site; the absence of expensive basement excavation allows the apartments to be truly affordable.

Parramatta Council’s Design Excellence Advisory Panel was glowing about the pre-DA presentation:

The Panel are supportive of this skilful proposal. It demonstrates inventive and refined sensitivity to the complex issues of this site and its complicated, diffuse urban context. It also offers a high quality architectural response to the heritage item with a successful handling of the potentially difficult scale transition.’

© Hill Architects in association with Hill Thalis Architecture and Urban Projects – DA 2015; Approval February 2016; Tender Documentation 2016; Construction to commence early 2017.