No. 547 . 25 January 2012 

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The Innova21 building by DesignInc is a 14,000-square-meter (150,000-square-foot) facility for the Faculty of Engineering, Computer & Mathematical Sciences at the University of Adelaide in Adelaide, South Australia. Photo: © Dianna Snape

New Australian Architecture

by ArchitectureWeek

On a tiny site measuring only seven by six meters (23 by 20 feet), a compact new home rises four and a half stories amidst the urban fabric of Surry Hills, an inner-city suburb of Sydney, Australia.

Designing for himself and his partner, Sue Bassett, architect Domenic Alvaro achieved an unexpected sense of expansiveness within this small space through the use of large precast concrete panels and plate-glass windows, with minimal additional interior detailing.

The house is organized vertically into multipurpose zones. A series of open stairs leads from the garage and utility space on the ground floor to the sleeping, bathing, and storage space on the second floor; the living room on the third floor; the food preparation, eating, and entertainment spaces on the fourth floor; and another room and garden terrace on the roof.

Alvaro, a principal in the Sydney office of Woods Bagot, notes that by using precast concrete, he was able to create this home "all for the cost of a city apartment."

The awards jury praised him for making the most of a constrained footprint: "Robust materiality and scale have successfully transformed this site into a spacious living environment."

"One could not have expected this result from seeing the site prior to construction, when it could just fit two cars squeezed in from a laneway," the jury continued. "The project offers potential as a new paradigm for the tight infill spaces that can be found throughout the inner ring of Australian cities."

The Alvaro-Bassett Residence was recognized as an exemplary small project in the 2011 national architecture awards from the Australian Institute of Architects. The 33 honorees range from single-family homes to large public buildings and landscapes, located across Australia and overseas.   >>>

House in Surry Hills · Innova21 at the University of Adelaide · Magney House by Glenn Murcutt · one40william in Perth · Mixed-Use in Sydney · Australian War Memorial · State Theatre Centre of Western Australia · Ecosciences Precinct in Brisbane


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