Escher House-2

CategoryHeritage Conservation
ArchitectMacCormick & Associates Architects

The renovation of this Federation – Queen Anne style house, c.1904, introduces consistency and improved spatial flow which had been lost over cumulative alterations and additions.

The works retain and restore the streetscape facades and the principle rooms of the existing house. The core is opened up with the contemporary insertion of a finely-detailed sculptural stairwell which, floats and twists in an Escher-esque way connecting attic through to garden.

Previous ad hoc additions are sympathetically replaced to rationalise the floor plan. A home office is added in the roof space taking advantage of views, and a meaningful connection is established between the children’s level and a new garden that is redesigned as a place for play.

The result is a home where the detailed interiors and cellular nature of the Federation period are respected and celebrated but the spaces now have consistency and fluid connections between levels, rooms and garden.


  • The design retains much of the existing fabric and reuses salvaged materials from site – windows, sandstone, bricks, steel structural elements, balustrades, timber
  • Passive design principles are employed – window placement for cross-ventilation and natural light, deep awnings, thermal mass, a highly insulated envelope
  • Sustainably harvested timber for windows and doors

Innovative sustainable design elements:

  • 2 x home offices reduce the need to work travel
  • 6,000L rainwater tank connected to irrigation and pool
  • Recycled timber floors and decking
  • Low-E glazing
  • Double glazed skylights strategically placed to minimise need for artificial light
  • Low water use fixtures

Environmental footprint of the building is minimised by:

  • Retention of the existing building reduces waste
  • Retention of all the existing trees to control light and heat gain
  • The improved design suitability for site together with the high quality build ensures a long life for the home
  • Passive environmental design avoids reliance on mechanical cooling or heating systems