Unfurled House | Christopher Polly Architect
Petersham, NSW, Australia

Unfurled House

Project Type
  • Residential
  • Petersham, NSW, Australia
Lead Architect
  • Christopher Polly
Interior Designers
  • 173.2m2
Project Year
  • 2016
  • Brett Boardman
  • Matrix Additions
Structural Engineer
  • SDA Structures
Acoustic Consultant
  • Sebastian Giglio
  • Damian O’Toole Town Planning
  • Junek & Junek
  • Petersham, NSW, Australia

Unfurled House by Christopher Polly Architect is an articulated two-storey framed volume that is sensitively stitched to the rear original fabric, while retaining its front Federation masonry and hipped envelope as part of its environmental, economic and planning values.

The home has a sectional split-level relationship to the original house that harnesses the fall of the site to the rear, enabling the cellular front plan to vertically and horizontally unfurl into a series of connected interior spaces that expand to its setting. The former 3 bedroom dwelling with 1 living space and 1 bathroom has been transformed into a 4 bedroom dwelling with 2 living spaces and 2 bathrooms, to provide significant additional freedom for the owners and their children to grow into.

The built form and its program resolution respond to its immediate setting and the established conditions of the original dwelling. The two-storey volume mediates the scale and massing of its larger and smaller neighbours, with the existing southern setback extrapolated to the extent of a former rear wall and rear setback of its southern neighbour to mitigate adjacent impacts.

An intermediary form folds from the underside of the reinstated rear edge of the old dwelling to meet the two-storey volume, serving as a nexus for utility spaces, circulation and a northern courtyard at the center of the plan. Projecting ‘wedges’ at the rear further unfurl the envelope to provide ground floor storage on the terrace, a daybed nook within the ‘public’ living space, and a private reading space within the upper bedroom, for strengthened connections to its external environment.

Sustainability, cost and planning values entailed in retaining the original fabric are augmented by a modestly sized footprint and lightweight-framed envelope in a crafted ‘new build’ enabled at the rear. Fenestration placement allows expansive enjoyment of outdoor spaces, harnesses natural light and promotes passive ventilation.

Projecting hoods and external blinds temper solar penetration, and acoustic attenuation measures for alternative air ventilation, insulation and internal linings assist the performance of the envelope in ameliorating latent aircraft noise.

A central vaulted ceiling allows a volumetric expansiveness over a rigorously organised core and circulation zone, and surrendered floor area enables generously carved voids flanking an upper bridge for diverse views to sky, trees, and outdoor spaces, while encouraging a spatial interplay of public, semi-private and private rooms.


2016 Australian Institute of Architects Awards, Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations & Additions) – Architecture Award Winner

2016 Marrickville Medal Award – Winner

2016 Sustainability Awards – Shortlisted Finalist

2016 IDEA Awards, Residential Single – Shortlisted Finalist


2016 Houses Awards, House Alteration & Addition – Shortlisted Finalist

2016 Australian Interior Design Awards – Shortlisted Finalist

2016 Marrickville Sustainable Building Award – Shortlisted Finalist

2017 Architizer A+ Awards – Shortlisted Finalist

To view more Christopher Polly Architecture and Interior Design Archives head to his TLP Designer Profile.        

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Brett Boardman

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