by Rosalyn D'MelloMay 01, 2020
Located in the Toxeth Estate, a historic centre in Sydney, New South Wales in Australia, the Courtyard House has been redesigned by Joe Agius of COX Architecture to a modern abode that is inspired from Moroccan architecture. The Courtyard House came into being in 1885 as a large and generously proportioned Italianate terrace in the Toxeth Estate of Glebe. During the interwar period, like many dwellings in Glebe, the house underwent significant unsympathetic alterations into a boarding house. Now it has been converted into a contemporary home with a refreshing appeal for a mature family with two teenage sons.
The approach was to reconfigure it back into a single dwelling while giving privacy to each of the family members. The ambition was to create a courtyard house that catered to the needs of the day with amenities of the modern world, and walks away from the terrace typology.
"The design for the house embraces the ideal of adaptability – it is designed to ‘transform’ easily between three modes – single generous four-bedroom home, two two-bedroom homes, and a large two-bedroom home with a separate studio,” says Cox Architecture Director Agius.
The house draws inspiration from ‘riad’, a traditional Moroccan house where the house is organised around a central courtyard with multiple storeys of dwelling that have non-ornamental and blank façade. In the case of this Courtyard House in Australia, the place welcomes the sunlight from the north into a centric sunny north-east facing courtyard. All the interior spaces are designed to seamlessly interact with this central space that connects all, metaphorically and physically.
“The adaptability is designed-in – including all building services – it challenges the ‘fixed’ way in which we design our housing stock, potentially addressing challenges of housing affordability," mentions Agius.
The central green courtyard becomes the physical and conceptual heart of the dwelling. Much like the façade of a Moroccan ‘riad’ house, this abode adopts a contemporary approach. The exterior is a robust exposed concrete façade and severs in its restraint and lack of embellishment. The house is an attempt to be an ideal home for the family, enabling both retreat and engagement.
Name: Courtyard House
Location: Sydney, Australia
Area: 550 sqft
Architectural firm: COX Architecture, Joe Agius Architect