Smee Schoff House

Petersham, NSW

This project is a great example of how dedicated and engaged clients together with a challenging set of site constraints make for a rich and unique design outcome.
Key constraints were; inconsistent council requirements for street-scape and heritage, the need to maintain the privacy and solar access of neighbouring properties, multiple poorly devised and implemented alterations to the existing cottage, access to winter sun to the necessarily south facing living areas, views to the park and access to the winter sun available only to the existing bedrooms. The brief also included an atypical requirement for an eat-in kitchen and a melded dining/ lounge/ music room.
Our clients have a wonderful art collection, and their own unique style, which contributed to the industrial/ craft aesthetic of the new work.
Recycled bricks are used extensively for environmental and aesthetic reasons, on both internal (painted) and external (bare-faced) walls. Black painted, lightweight steel framed windows and doors accentuate the very tall brick walls of the central court and dining room. Exposed, oversized recycled timber beams scale the 4.5m high ceiling of the dining space. Timbers recycled from demolished portions of the building and our client’s cherished Scandinavian hand-painted ceramic tiles are incorporated into new joinery work.
A lightweight screen of plywood, laser cut in a pattern derived from the hand-painted tiles separates the kitchen and dining rooms.
The design sits on a clear continuum in our work; of pushing for maximum thermal comfort with minimal ongoing energy use. This involves a relatively large upfront cost; in the provision of substantial thermal mass via exposed concrete slab floors and brick and reverse brick veneer wall construction, coupled with solar powered/ gas boosted hydronic underfloor heating, contributing to ongoing and long term energy savings. A central courtyard, between the old and new, provides winter sun to otherwise south facing living areas.
The construction team from Buildability, led by foreman Matt Raap, were a major factor in the success of the project.
Winner of the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Architecture Award

Jury Citation:

“The Smee Schoff House fulfils a familiar task of Sydney architecture with particular distinction. A Federation cottage on a busy street in the inner west was opened to its back garden. The result is a model of its kind, resolving the many challenges of the site with such eaves, the difficulties seem hardly to exist.”




Australian Institute of Architects (National) Commendation – Residential 2012
Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter) Architecture Award – Residential 2012
Marrickville Medal – Commendation – 2014


Monument Issue 104 August/September 2011
Home Beautiful September 2011

Project Team

Sam Crawford, Karen Erdos, Lionel Teh


Landscape – Hugh Main, Spirit Level
Structural Engineer – James Sutherland, Northrop
Quantity Surveyor – Matt Saunderson, QS Plus
Hydraulic Engineer – Northrop
Land Surveyor – Hill & Blume




Brett Boardman