Project Feature

A Unique Home With a Story to Tell: Manly II by Archisoul Architects

Manly, NSW, Australia

Rose Onans

A heritage semi-detached cottage in the beachside Sydney suburb of Manly proved a uniquely challenging yet rewarding project for Archisoul Architects. Originally owned in the 1900s by two brothers who informally founded Australia’s surf lifesaving culture, Archisoul took the opportunity to engage with the building’s history while creating a light-filled contemporary home, built by Newmark Constructions.

Both the circumstances and he history surrounding the Manly II Project pushed it beyond the usual realm of a heritage cottage renovation. One of a pair of semi-detached cottages, the owners of the Manly II cottage and their neighbours arrived at the decision to engage the same architect and builder. With very different styles and requirements, the final result is two equally different cottages that are united physically by the adjoining wall and in intent by the designs’ shared commitment to their past. Yet practically and aesthetically, the two provide responsive, very different design specific to the needs of the two separate clients.

Clean cut plywood, polished concrete and glass create a calm and contemporary interior in the new addition to the cottage.

The simple, refined palette of the new section built by Newmark Constructions is focused on texture, highlighting the building’s heritage.

The cottages share a unique history. Built in the 1900s, the cottages were owned by the Sly brothers, two brothers who aspired to give back to the local beach community. From their cottages, the Sly brothers would head down to the beach whenever they got word of someone in trouble in the surf, pioneering the culture of Australian surf lifesaving in the process. Nearly 120 years after this fascinating history, Archisoul were tasked with honouring the heritage of the cottage, peeling back the layers of the previous renovations and modifications that had occurred over the intervening years.

Archisoul took the opportunity to engage with the building’s history while creating a light-filled contemporary home, built by Newmark Constructions.

Only a small sliver of the new addition is visible from the street, with the heritage facade of the cottage harking back to its early days at the turn of the twentieth century. Internally, sand stock bricks and reclaimed timber sit adjacent to polished concrete and clean-cut plywood, demarcating the line between old and new. This threshold signifies the evolution of the cottage over time in parallel with the changes the suburb has seen in the past century, physically serving as a reminder of the design’s significant historical context.

Archisoul tucked the new addition behind the restored the 1900s facade.

The living and kitchen are open plan, located within the simple box-like addition that opens on to the small but verdant garden.

The new design sits easily to the back of the original cottage, embodying a simplicity of form that follows the functionality within. The lower level open-plan kitchen and dining opens via full-height glazing on to the compact yet verdant garden. Glazing also links to the upper and lower spaces via a glazed section that forms the floor of the upper-level walkway and ceiling of the lower-level dining.

Yet practically and aesthetically, the two provide responsive, very different design specific to the needs of the two separate clients.

Working in a small 200m2 footprint, simple yet effective design moves such as this allow the architects to maximise the amenity of their design. By prioritising the key areas, Archisoul were able to create spaces of generous proportions. High ceilings and strategic glazing bring natural light into the spaces to enhance the sense of spaciousness and openness. Combined with a simple, refined palette with a focus on texture, the effect is a calming and welcoming contemporary home.

Light is brought into each level by strategic glazing, including a glazed upper-level walkway that doubles as a gazed ceiling above the lower-level dining area.

A calm, light-filled bedroom in the Manly II project, built by Newmark Constructions.

Responding to the building’s history and bringing it to light from underneath years of modifications and renovations, Archisoul leans into the aesthetic contrasts with the contemporary addition, creating a unique home with a story to tell.

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