Substation House

Gadi Country / Paddington, NSW

Progressive domestic architecture inserted into a heritage-listed site.

Substation House

2002 Paddington, NSW

The shell of a disused electrical substation on a small (100 sqm) site was the catalyst for an exploration of space, void and materiality, designed in association with fellow Sydney University graduate Emili Fox.

The 2003 Royal Australian Institute of Architects Awards jury commented:

It is a highly inventive example of how to insert a progressive piece of domestic architecture into a heritage listed site. The substation’s front wall, its public face has been left untouched. It is separated from the new house by a walled courtyard, where a trench which once housed electrical cables has been converted into a fishpond. Another original deep trench cutting a swathe through the ground floor, open plan living area is used as a wine cellar and storage area.

The living area opens widely both to the front courtyard and a small garden area at the rear, featuring a tiled wall a cascading water. The living area is connected to three bedrooms and bathrooms on the upper two levels by a stairway of timber treads and decking, which is crowned by a dramatic curved ceiling featuring a light slot. In keeping with the industrial heritage of the substation, the house incorporates a palette of robust no-nonsense materials: concrete walls and floors, exposed steel, rendered brick, zinc roofing and recycled timbers.

Gerard Reinmuth writing in the Architecture Review commented:

Complex issues presented by the project – the relationship of the new building to the existing substation walls; the dialogue between materials and details in the new and old work; urban design considerations of overlooking and privacy within a tightly packed block; and the resolution of relationships within the gallery/residential program – offer a rich basis for exploration.


Royal Australian Institute Of Architects
Architecture Award 2003


Architectural Review Residential 02 November 2001
Sydney Morning Herald Domain October 2002


Paul Reyners

Project Team

Emili Fox, Sam Crawford, Paul Huxtable, Chris Fox, Michael Fox


Heritage Consultant – John Oultram
Landscape Design – Anton James
Structural Engineer – Northcroft


Brett Boardman