The Loft Houses Transform Two Inner-Sydney Carparking Spaces Into Beautiful Efficient Housing
The Fisher & Paykel Series
Sydney, NSW, Australia
The Loft Houses by Brad Swartz occupy what were once two rear-lane residential parking spaces in inner Sydney.
Each at just 35m2, the project was born of the changes driven by technology – Airbnb creating a market for private short-stay accommodation, and car-sharing apps like Go-Get eliminating the need for traditional car ownership and the associated parking spaces.
Brad explains that two enterprising neighbours saw potential in capitalising on their location in the heart of Sydney, collaborating to build the adjoining houses. In this way, they were able to transform unused laneway parking spaces into small, beautifully designed, second residences that could be rented out as accommodation or used by travelling family and friends.
‘The tightness of the available space translated into really efficient design’, says Brad. The design process involved drawing up a list of requirements and ‘jigsawing’ them into different arrangements until the perfect configuration was found. The end result is a highly intelligent, multi-purpose use of space.
With the brief along the lines of a hotel room, the bathroom was reconfigured almost as a glass box, stacked in the same alignment as the kitchen and stairs below. The basin was removed from the bathroom entirely, moved to its position on a marble shelf that becomes either a vanity or desk as required.
The kitchen was a similarly exercise in creative configuration. The appliances were crucial to the success of the kitchen design – Fisher & Paykel were the only appliance manufacturer whose in-built oven and DishDrawer could be stack one on top of the other, allowing more room for necessary storage and bench space. They also supplied the two-burner induction cooktop, the flat surface creating extra bench space when not in use. A bar fridge, meanwhile, hides at eye-level inside the cabinetry above the pantry – by elevating the fridge, it feels more like a standard full-height fridge while providing for important dry storage as well.
Brad says that the houses were designed as a retreat from the busy city directly outside the doorstep. ‘We saw it as an oasis in the middle of the city, quiet and removed’, he says. As the Loft Houses are designed to be accommodation, materials and finishes had to be hard-wearing and durable, yet with a sense of luxury. The pared-back material and colour palette are calming, and the white walls and joinery add a sense of spaciousness and light.
From the outside, the houses are inconspicuous, set among the collection of buildings on the lane. It is only once one steps into the space that the full impact of the design is revealed. Brad explains that the focus was on creating an understated exterior, inspired by an old stable. Internally, exposed beams not only add ceiling height but also reference this stable inspiration. Steel was chosen to frame the windows and doors and for the balustrade because it has ‘a beautiful handmade quality to it’, Brad says. He explains that these elements add character to the minimalist design, ‘creating an extra layer of richness’.
Ultimately, Brad sees The Loft Houses as ‘replacing cars with people’, an indication of the changing face of our cities. The projects prove that with intelligent, efficient design, small living spaces have a role to play in responding to this change.