Cohen House

This house and studio for an industrial designer is located at the end of a street in the Sydney suburb of Paddington, hard against a 3 storey high sandstone cliff which at one time formed part of the shoreline of Sydney Harbour. The street is lined with London Plane trees which together with the cliff face provide the only view and focus of the site. 
The site was previously occupied by a 1950s light industrial shed used as a machine shop. The local Council were insistent that the original brick facade of this shed be retained and incorporated into any new building on the site. 
A new 3 storey steel framed structure has been inserted into the shell of the former shed supporting concrete floor slabs and roof. 
The building is divided into 3 clearly differentiated horizontal divisions. Level one is occupied by the owners studio behind the existing facade, level two contains the living, dining and kitchen areas opening to timber decks on both the north and south. Level three contains 2 bedrooms, bathroom, laundry and a study. The building is glazed on 3 sides with floor to ceiling glazing on the western facade directing the view to the cliff face, which is illuminated at night and has been treated as an archaeological artefact contained within a glazed display case.
The building is divided into 2 zones vertically with a clearly defined services/circulation core on the eastern side of the site abutting the neighbouring houses. This core contains bathrooms, kitchens, laundry, storage spaces, the stair and a car stacker in a garage accessed from the rear lane. This strategy allows for the western half of the site to be open plan studio/living/bedroom space which can be fully glazed to take advantage of the view of the cliff face. 

The building has been designed to incorporate a significant number of passive environmental principles. The building is naturally cross ventilated by way of large openings in the north and south elevations, incorporating banks of adjustable glass louvres to allow ventilation even if the sliding doors are closed for security at night or when the house is not occupied. All sliding doors and fixed panels of glazing are double glazed. There is significant thermal mass in the polished concrete floors and roof, with the roof being well insulated and topped with pebble ballast. 
Being glazed on 3 sides there is significant natural lighting, with no artificial lighting required until after sunset. 
The north facing terrace is shaded by an adjustable aluminium louvred pergola structure and north facing windows on the upper level are also shaded by adjustable aluminium louvres. The fully glazed west elevation is completely shaded by the cliff face. 

The 2 dominant concepts in this project were; the clear delineation of old and new in response to the local Councils' requirement to retain and integrate the existing brick facade into the new building, and the focus on the cliff face as an archaeological artefact to be displayed behind a glass display case to compensate for lack of any other view from the site. The cliff has considerable significance as it at one time formed the shoreline of Sydney Harbour prior to the reclamation of Rushcutters Bay. All spaces within the building have been designed to allow views of the cliff face, either directly or reflected in bathroom mirrors. The new structure is a simple steel frame setback from the existing facade to align with the neighbouring houses and fully expressed on the new upper level facade and in-filled with glazed or aluminium cladding panels. The zones between new and existing facades at both front and rear are utilised as external terraces allowing a clear appreciation of the old (heavy) masonry construction and the new (light) steel framed construction. The ground level studio space mediates between the 2 with new glazed assemblies inserted into the openings in the existing facade.
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