The transformation of a dark and pokey terrace in Kirribilli highlights the participatory nature of architecture: Just as every family member is different, a home should reflect its residents’ distinctive habits and needs.

Project Name: Zuster House
Studio Name:
Bijl Architecture
Completion date: 2019
Building levels: 2
Location: Kirribilli, Australia
Photography: Katherine Lu

Zuster House by Bijl Architecture - Sheet1
View of outside ©Katherine Lu

The mirror image home of recent Bijl project, Doorzien House, Zuster, Dutch for sister, is right next door yet a world way in terms of realisation. Although we were tasked with a similar brief to transform the terrace into a spacious home that makes better use of redundant space, improves the connection between the floor levels, outdoors, and those splendid Sydney Harbour views, the results are startlingly different.

Where Doorzien favours an interplay of light, solid and void, Zuster’s site, context and occupant preferences combine in a unique expression. We kept original features in the house and on site – like the street views through the site to the Harbour beyond.

Zuster House by Bijl Architecture - Sheet2
Dining Space ©Katherine Lu

On the ground floor, a generous open-plan environment with large windows overlooks the harbour. A new kitchen anchors this living space, and a new stair has been placed into an existing “step-out” in the floor plan, preserving and extending the view.

Our redesign of the lower ground floor – previously an underutilised area that prioritised the laundry, clunky TV room, and dark spare bedroom – now accommodates a flexible living room that opens to the garden, as well as the children’s new bedrooms, a reconfigured laundry and a generous bathroom.

Zuster House by Bijl Architecture - Sheet3
Living Room ©Katherine Lu

Replacing the existing astroturfed rear yard was imperative, with the garden now returned to lawn and greenery. Zuster explores a classic materials palette with muted tones, textured pressed metal, and characterful timber panel features speaking of tradition and grace.

On the rear facade, it borrows from the industrial maritime heritage of the area with sleek black brick and black-oxide mortar.


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