31 Fairfax Road

CategoryContribution to the Built Environment
ArchitectIan Moore Architects

This project is located on a north facing slope looking across Middle Harbour to the Spit Bridge and Clontarf. The site falls away dramatically from a broad and densely landscaped verge on the street frontage, with a high sandstone cliff forming the southern boundary. Entry is from the side street across a small bridge to a front door that opens to a grand stair descending the full height of the house and dividing it into two clearly differentiated volumes. The southern volume contains the service spaces while the northern volume contains the living areas and bedrooms. The glass roofed stair between these volumes has an ambiguous reading, neither inside nor out. The simplicity of the external cement rendered form is enriched with an overlay of light bronze anodised aluminium windows, sliding doors and external sun control louvres, while the interior is defined by the Oak joinery and Travertine floors.


  • Designed using passive design principles.
  • Living areas and bedrooms face North.
  • Bathrooms, laundry, and storage areas are on southern side.
  • Long life, low maintenance materials.
  • Large sliding doors to the north and smaller louvred windows to the south induce natural cross ventilation.
  • Large outdoor living room to north of kitchen.

Innovative sustainable design elements:

  • Large capacity water storage tanks.
  • Photovoltaic panels on roof for electricity generation.
  • Solar hot water system.
  • External sun control louvres to western facade and all skylights.
  • LED and fluorescent lighting throughout.
  • Concrete and concrete clock construction, with stone flooring having high thermal mass.

Environmental footprint of the building is minimised by:

  • Northern orientation.
  • Large windows providing high levels of natural lighting.
  • External sunscreening.
  • Natural cross ventilation.
  • High insulation values and thermal mass.
  • Australian native garden planting.
  • Stone ballast to roofs adding insulation and pleasing views for neighbours.
  • Light bronze, warm grey and stone material palette blends into the landscaped setting.