Drawing thoughtfully upon its historical context whilst catering to the tastes and requirements of today, Traces is a generously appointed, mixed-use warehouse block of twenty units in the heart of Sydney’s Surry Hills.

Given its prominent location in a neighbourhood with a rich history in the textile industry, MHNDU have designed a scheme that pays homage to the past while creating modern, inner-city residences. Taking cues from the former hardware store that stood on the property in the early 20th century, as well as the contemporary architectural styles that surround the site, we have devised a unique combination of a traditional brick warehouse and inner-city terrace, infused with modern architectural elements. The use of materials from the original brick warehouse are prominently displayed, not only in the visual aesthetic, but also in the physical integration of the bricks into the new structure. The silhouette of the original building is retained as a remnant, represented through the utilisation of glazed white brick materiality.

Organised around an open central courtyard, the three-storey building features a split level between the east and west wings. The sloping roof forms of the upper level serve to welcome natural light and fresh air into the units, while the saw tooth roof form of the southern side references that of the warehouse it replaces, further tributing to the site’s historical context. The circulation of the warehouse leads to an open communal garden on the roof which offers views to the east along the newly created tram corridor.

Traces also features top-level apartments with black zinc exteriors and contemporary dormer windows that allow ample natural light into the interior, the latter mirroring the style of many Victorian terraces in the area. Internally, an industrial aesthetic is created using exposed concrete ceilings and track lighting, the inclusion of timber flooring incorporating a sense of warming naturality.

To cater to the diverse Surry Hills population, MHNDU have included a variety of apartment types, from 35-square-metre studio units for first-time homeowners, to 75-square-meter two-bedroom apartments, all with private balconies. Like many European-style apartments, the building also includes a shopping precinct, the ground floor in its entirety dedicated to retail, further integrating the building into the vibrant urban village.

Location Devonshire St, Surry HillsYear 2020Credits Photography Martin Mischkulnig

MHN Design Union acknowledges the traditional custodians of the land on which we operate, the Gadigal people of the Eora nation and their Elders past, present, and future.