Customs House

This project transformed a historically significant family home in Sydney’s Double Bay into a heritage-sensitive yet modern dwelling. Our task was to create an entirely new addition to the late Victorian cottage known as Customs House, which, although not heritage listed, has commanded a significant presence in the streetscape since 1880. Harmonising traditional elements and contemporary upgrades, we remedied several previous renovations which didn’t make full use of the site or adequately accommodate busy family life.

MHNDU’s aims for the home was to both align and collocate two distinct architectural styles, joined by an interpretation of a courtyard as an internal clerestory, acting as a connection space and a conduit of light into the middle section of the house. In this way, each building can be viewed in the round and appreciated on its own distinct merits. Due to the external contrasts at play, Lawless and Meyerson’s intentions for the interior scheme were twofold: ensuring a seamless residential experience of walking between the inside and outside; and that the home felt cohesive internally despite the external presentation of two distinct facades.

The result is a visual juxtaposition between heritage and modern architecture – an authentic response to our clients’ needs for vast updates to their historically significant corner cottage. The contemporary structure sits boldly beside the veteran, an admission of architectural diversity rather than an attempt to conceal modern updates. Despite the lack of obscuration, there exists an unlikely accord between both the heritage and modern buildings, which evokes a warmth and genuineness from both the external perspective, and internally, aided by the softening element of established trees which border both separate but unified structures.

Location Double BayYear 2018Credits Photography Tom Ferguson, Interiors Lawless & Meyerson

In the spirit of reconciliation MHNDU acknowledges the Traditional Custodians of country throughout Australia and their connections to land, sea and community.
We pay our respect to their Elders past and present and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.