Italianate House

Italianate House

Surry Hills, Australia - Build completed in 2017
Ignacio Alcalde

Italianate House

Renato D’Ettorre Architects as Architects

What is the big idea behind this project

This project involved the restoration and modification of an inner Sydney heritage-listed three storey Italianate-style C1880's terrace house and 1860’s stable.  The concept was to translate a 1990’s office fit-out into a modern-day residence preserving the historic style of the building while inserting a brave and very contemporary atmosphere inside.

A short description of the project

The restoration and brave modification of an existing heritage-listed three storey Victorian Italianate-style terrace house with carriageway, with modifications to the rear wing and restoration and modification to sandstone stable, restoration of rear stone fences and addition of concrete carport with landscaped roof terrace located at rear of ‘L’ shaped site in Surry Hills, Sydney.

The underlying concept was to translate an existing 1980’s office fitout into a contemporary residence while honouring the style of the building and still being able to live in great comfort and awe of the bold design modifications. Due to the low heritage significance of the rear wing total restructuring was possible where the most dramatic design intervention took place.

Introduction of the impressive engineered double height brick vault ceiling to the restructured rear wing seemed an appropriate element for the Italianate style of the house. This brings to modern design such elements of historical grandeur that gave rise to the notion ‘the arch never sleeps’.

The building's main historical features such as ornate marble fireplaces, main staircase, and main entry glass panelled door and side lights brought back to life contributing to the beauty of the new residence. 

Materials favoured where salvaged bricks, terracotta tiles, white Carrara marble, white stuccoed walls.The expansive double glazed roof acts as a heat bank to disperse hot air through the upper levels of the house in the cooler months and can also act as a drying area during wetter periods.

Specialist consultants were engaged including, stone mason, engineer, heritage consultant, landscape designer and pool consultant. The existing building's generous size permitted additional spaces beyond the client’s needs and expectations allowing the introduction of the multi-use conservatory on the second level of the rear wing. The conservatory has been treated as an outdoor living area with potted trees.

Sustainability - How has your project addressed sustainability concerns?

Passive cooling, under floor gas heating, hydronic radiators to the front terrace house along with thermal properties of the existing mass brick external walls and double glazing to skylights and new openings provide sustainable physical comfort.

 Rain water collected irrigates gardens. Existing vegetation is retained to maximise amenities and new vegetation used extensively on balconies, garden walls and the carport green roof.


The multi–use conservatory, designed with the same objectives as an outdoor terrace, uses reclaimed terracotta floor tiles laid under an expansive double glazed roof acting as a heat bank during winter, dispersing hot air to the upper levels and doubling as a drying area during wetter months. The conservatory is a wintergarden during the cooler seasons with natural sunlight and is protected by the glass roof on rainy days.

The brick vault living space brings natural light, air, sun, water, vegetation and the sounds of nature in. 

Skilled stonemason’s expert in stone preservation and repair of sandstone walls were paramount ensuring faithful restoration of significant elements of the heritage buildings. Skilled craftsman repaired or made missing or deteriorated interior timber mouldings, stair balusters and re-discovered hidden ornate walls.

Project team
Jérôme Seydoux - Pathé Foundation
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