The new industrial revolution
An old worker’s cottage is transformed into an inner city oasis built for two, writes
If houses could talk, this one would have a great story to tell. What was a modest cottage in the former Cooper’s Estate, which was subdivided in the 1880s to provide housing for the workers of industrial Waterloo and Alexandria nearby, is now a contemporary residence in Sydney’s sought-after inner east.
When owner Adrian Wilson bought it, the single-level residence was missing a bathroom and kitchen and now it has an extra storey, four bedrooms and, unlike most of its neighbours, a pool.
The original footprint of 100sqm was expanded to 170sqm.
“The idea was to create a contemporary, luxury residence with a bit of a warehouse feel and nod to the heritage of the area,” Adrian says. “We wanted to reinvigorate the heritage facade, which we did with new tessellated tiles, a cast iron handmade fence, sandstone and heritage colours.
“Downstairs, we retained the front two rooms of the house, knocked off the back of the house and started from scratch.”
The back of the house is full of light, thanks to 3.2m-high ceilings. The height was achieved by dropping the floor level by half metre and putting in a polished concrete slab with underfloor heating.
Mild steel, a raw steel which eventually develops a patina, works with the concrete for the industrial vibe and was used throughout the home including the handrail for the staircase and its panel risers, steel bi-fold doors and the archway which connects the original section of the home to the new build.
When the old lime render was pulled off, the original brickwork was in such good condition that Adrian decided to keep it as it adds to the home’s heritage.
The only way is up
The home’s footprint meant there were limited options for the upper level if it was going to fit four bedrooms.
“The clients asked for a small bedroom or nursery room near the master bedroom and it had a top-level side setback, which allowed a window out there for the side bedroom, and also dictated the configuration of the stairwell,” says master builder and director of Winshore Building, Jordan Glover, who designed the house.
The brief was to avoid placing the stairs in the living area along the length of the building so that they wouldn’t encroach on valuable living space.
“The way the staircase was placed allowed for a fourth bedroom on the first floor and a more generous space for the guest room or second bedroom at the front of the house,” Jordan says.
“It also allowed room for a laundry and toilet to be tucked under the stairs on the ground floor.”
The staircase’s brass flat bars inlaid to the treads not only provide a non-slip surface, but are highlighted by the full height window and skylight which flood the stairwell and the ground floor with natural light.
Open to ideas
“Adrian wanted a car space that was usable and asked me to come up with a way to have a covered outdoor area,” Jordan says. “We
The heritage facade was refreshed and new tessellated tiles and cast iron fence added.