Text description provided by the architects. Tucked away at the end of a lane in the Sydney suburb of Randwick, close to The Spot and in walking distance to Coogee beach, is a 74 sqm simple brick industrial structure built in 1890 by two Irish blacksmiths (brothers) to house their coach building business.
Over the past 120 years the building has also operated as a motorcycle repair shop, secondhand washing machine warehouse, a builder's workshop, and more recently a studio for local artists. Having grown up in the area, one of the owners knew the building well and when it came up for sale in 2003, took a leap of faith and invested in a project that presented an exciting opportunity to develop a smaller, sustainable and more efficient way to live, while challenging the convention that ʻbigger is betterʼ.
The project responds to the city's growing need for adaptive reuse, meets the constraints of a limited budget and addresses the long term needs of owners who wanted a home that would reduce the use of traditional (costly/polluting) energy requirements – all without compromising the level of amenity or comfort, in fact improving it, while maximizing privacy and renewing/greening a forgotten lane way.
The building has a north-facing roof that has been set up with solar panels to harness the sun, there are operable doors and windows from north to south to allow good cross ventilation so there is no need for air conditioning, while the thermal mass of the concrete floor holds the winter sun to warm the building in the colder months. Along the southern wall a full bank of kitchen/storage on ground level, and robe/storage on the first level, has been installed as an effective insulator from the adjoining lane way.