Intergenerational Architecture - Woollahra Courtyard House by CO-AP
Woollahra, NSW, Australia
Nestled in the tranquil leafy streets of the Sydney suburb of Woollahra sits the Courtyard House. Built on the site of a 1970s single-storey dwelling, the new home has been designed for an empty-nester couple, but also needed to accommodate three generations of extended family visitors. Shortlisted for several design awards, the new home is a structural masterpiece.
Architect Will Fung, co-founder of the studio CO-AP, explains that “the architectural concept was clear and strong from the beginning.” The former residence was designed around the courtyard, so this strongly influenced the new home design, so much so that it led to the addition of an internal courtyard, giving the residence the flexibility to open onto several outdoor spaces at once. Cues were also taken from the peaceful surroundings and the neighbouring residences.
“The architectural concept was clear and strong from the beginning.”
The architectural elements of the new building are clearly defined using masonry, concrete and metal cladding on the exterior. A distinctive geometric series of skylights and clerestory windows in the concrete roof are installed over the ground floor, allowing light to penetrate deep into living spaces and internal rooms. Will describes, “the geometry of these punctures follows the form of the upper storey.” These openings not only allow the light in but create intricate focal points throughout the interior.
Internally, a remarkable combination of materials was chosen. The CO-AP team found themselves delighted by the client’s distinctive selection. “We encouraged the client to discover what they liked, and we took on the challenge to bring these choices together in a cohesive way,” remarks Will. The use of Australian hardwoods for joinery and bedroom floor create a warm and inviting feel. In the bathrooms, a variety of figured stones are naturally lit by skylights and accentuated by playful coloured amenities. The use of horizontal planes of board-form concrete and terrazzo unifies the living spaces. Will continues, “the architecture is strong, and the material palette is rich, yet the outcome is restrained through thoughtful detailing and selection of soft furnishings.”
The main home spans over two floors; the space transforms throughout the day with the shifting daylight. Situated in the heart of the home is one of Will’s favourite parts of the project: the serene sculptural painted steel staircase, playfully casting shadows on the floors below. Beneath, the basement level accommodates parking for two cars, a cellar, laundry and abundant storage that connects to the rear lane. Will concludes, “by implementing precise and simple detailing, we revealed the clarity of each palette. This design process has resulted in a fresh and fortuitous outcome.”
“We encouraged the client to discover what they liked, and we took on the challenge to bring these choices together in a cohesive way.”
Punctuated by courtyards and skylights, the architecture frames the inhabitants’ connection with the site, emphasised by the contrast between openings and the weight and presence of the structure. Controlled yet playful, Woollhara Courtyard House delights in detail while crafting a design of expansive vision.