Reclaimed materials form “playful and textured” facade of Sydney house

A staggered arrangement of windows and patterned sections of brickwork form the facade of 19 Waterloo Street, a house that Australian studio SJB has added to a small site in Sydney.

The building, which also contains a shop and self-contained flat, was designed by SJB to replace a damaged structure on the compact site in the Surry Hills suburb.

It has been shortlisted in the Urban House category of the Dezeen Awards 2o23.

Exterior view of 19 Waterloo Street in Sydney
SJB designed a facade of reclaimed and broken bricks for 19 Waterloo Street

Informed by the playful houses that feature in movies by French director Jacques Tati, 19 Waterloo Street features a patchwork-like facade made from reclaimed materials and broken bricks.

“Given the small footprint of the project, I wanted to lean on my university thesis project that investigated stretching and manipulating space through film,” studio director Adam Haddow told Dezeen.

“The house attempts to do this – to make spaces feel bigger than they are, by borrowing space and tricking your mind.”

Exterior of SJB's mixed-use project in Sydney
The home references the playful houses in movies by Jacques Tati

Pale bricks cut to a range of lengths are arranged in neat formations across the street-facing facade, framing a series of uniquely shaped windows.

Towards the bottom of the wall, an L-shaped portion is clad in broken, reclaimed bricks, which are intended to resemble the sandstone bases of neighbouring historic buildings.

Brickwork facade of Sydney house
There is a semicircular entrance

Red accents including canopies, railings and planters also feature across the facade, alongside a semi-circular, cast-bronze gate with twisting rails. The gate was designed by artist Mika Utzon-Popov to act as a playful entrance to 19 Waterloo Street.

“Externally the house is playful and textured – riffing the motives and materiality of the suburb that surrounds it,” SJB explained. “A little like a house from a Jacques Tati film, the facade feels alive with personality.”

Lower ground entrance to 19 Waterloo Street in Sydney by SJB
The house also contains a shop and a self-contained flat

“We wanted our house to draw from the suburb’s masonry heritage, with punched openings and finessed brick detailing,” added Haddow. “We wanted there to be joy and delight.”

Beyond the front gate, a screen of dark timber battens separates the compact entrance hall from the retail space, which is spread across the front portion of the ground floor.

Photo of Steel House Stone House by Retallack ThompsonPhoto of Steel House Stone House by Retallack Thompson Plant-filled courtyard connects steel and stone houses in Sydney

A self-contained apartment comprising living spaces and a bedroom sits above the retail area, with an additional bedroom nestled down a series of steps behind the shop.

Throughout the apartment, rich hues are paired with tiled floors and playful accents including mirrored kitchen surfaces and mustard-yellow furnishings.

Interior view of house in Sydney
The interior has tiled flooring and brightly coloured furniture

The main home is contained in a block to the back of 19 Waterloo Street. Spread across an area of 30 square metres, the house is arranged around a central staircase and is separated from the rest of the building by a plant-filled courtyard.

Throughout the home are more neutrally-toned spaces of varying heights, including low-ceilinged storage spaces and bathrooms as well as spacious living spaces and bedrooms.

Pale kitchen with wooden ceiling
The block at the back of the site contains the main home

Other housing projects in Sydney recently featured on Dezeen include a steel and stone home built on either side of a garden and a U-shaped home extension built partially from recycled materials.

The photography is by Anson Smart.

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