Karen's Place | Studio Dot

2024 National Architecture Awards Program

Karen's Place | Studio Dot

Traditional Land Owners
Awabakal People

New South Wales



Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions)
Buildsmart Constructions
Brigid Arnott
Project summary

‘Karen’s Place’ is a project born from the client’s desire to leave a legacy for her children. In its more recent years, the circa 1885-1886 terrace endured an earthquake, a rebuild and the raising of two young boys. With her sons now adults, the client sought to remove the existing rear two-storey wing which, due to a poorly executed reconstruction after the 1989 earthquake, was damp, dark, mouldy and in need of light and ventilation. The new addition constructed on the same footprint reused 10,000 salvaged bricks (from demolition) and afforded the client a new kitchen, dining space, bedroom and bathroom/laundry. An additional outdoor bathroom and storage space services sandy family and friends returning from the beach. A strong connection to garden spaces has been established and thermal mass, highly insulated building envelope and double-glazed timber windows create a comfortable and healthy space for the client to enjoy.

New South Wales Architecture Awards Accolades
Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions)
Region Jury Citation

Karen’s Place is an exceptional and meticulous transformation of a heritage terrace house, that showcases a profound commitment to preserving historical character while simultaneously responding to the evolving needs of its occupants.

The reuse of 10,000 salvaged bricks, along with the incorporation of convict bricks with unique markings, tells a compelling narrative of heritage preservation and familial connection. The project’s impressive ability to seamlessly connect indoor and outdoor spaces, ushering in natural light and ventilation, is a hallmark of its thoughtful design. From the reimagined kitchen to the rooftop gardens, Karen’s Place offers a fresh perspective on residential living, perfectly combining function and aesthetics.

This project is an exemplary achievement in architectural design, one that transcends a simple renovation. It is a testament to the enduring value of preserving history while embracing the future, a sanctuary reborn with a multi-generational vision.

The soft, sensitive design seamlessly connects the inside to the outside. Now we enjoy garden views right from the front rooms of the terrace. The once-dark rooms are filled with light and fresh air, while the insulation, double glazing and louvres deliver thermal comfort. The new kitchen allows easy circulation from the old areas to the new and it’s the room we socialise in the most. We love the re-use of all the old materials and how they gently reference the old heritage house. The roof gardens maximise green spaces for us and our neighbours to enjoy from upstairs.

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Karen's Place | Studio Dot | Photographer: Brigid Arnott

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