Restriction can often lead to innovative design, particularly within the functional world of architecture. The D House project by Marston Architects is the latest to have caught our attention at est as it for upholds this theory by elegantly overcoming its own limitations. Tasked with updating and modifying a somewhat gloomy south-facing home in Sydney’s east, Marston Architects faced numerous challenges, among them maintaining the home’s heritage-protected structure while injecting the property with much-needed contemporary energy.

DESIGN Marston Architects | PHOTOGRAPHY Katherine Lu

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Sensitively maximising space in a dense, urban area, the semi-detached home is now a bright, sophisticated retreat. Marston Architects have achieved this mainly by adding a two-story extension to the rear of the property, so that natural light can be coaxed in from multiple points. A long, lean skylight built into the extension’s roof allows sunlight to filter in from the second story ceiling, highlighting one of the home’s most tactile features – a newly built party wall that repurposes the property’s original bricks. Aside from being a clever use of otherwise discarded materials, the wall is a raw yet inviting juxtaposition to the home’s polished concrete floors and smooth white ceilings.

The home’s understated interiors achieve a refined equilibrium, with no one element overwhelming the other. A neutral palette of grey, white, and black allows the central feature of the living area – two dramatic glass doors – to perform a dual function as cinematic frames for the home’s leafy courtyard, as well as architectural highlights. Both floor-to-ceiling glass panel doors rotate on compact axes, opening 90° to create a seamless transition between both outdoor and indoor spaces. But the interior style is best appreciated in the ‘breezeway’ transition area that blends the home’s two halves. With a sleek minimalist kitchen, the hearth of the home is enhanced by a plush, dove grey lounge and mid-century style dining table highlighted by a low-hanging glass pendant lamp – a modern, considered detail.

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By focusing on the outdoors, Marston Architects have drawn light into the once dark Victorian property. Slices of sky can be seen throughout the extension, especially in the upstairs master bedroom where ample windows offer maximum light without encroaching on privacy. Building onto the back of the dwelling ensures the home retains its elegant charcoal-toned bungalow frontage but inside, is primed for contemporary living. It’s an intelligent appendage that doesn’t disturb the property’s dignified exterior. Instead, it transforms a modest, heritage Sydney property into a surprisingly spacious, streamlined home – proof that sometimes limitations can lead to inspired transformations.

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“The fundamental design considerations were to unlock the existing house plan.. opening it up to the light and providing the opportunity to connect to the rear garden.”

– Pip Marston

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