Teracota
‘Teracota’ is all about balance - balance between architectural aspiration and commercial necessity, balance between commercial scale and domestic grain, balance between immersion in the buzz of inner city living and peaceful respite from it, and balance between distinction and attention.
Year
2020
Location
Alexandria, NSW
Size
Team
Aleksey Rudy, Anna Honan, Deirdre Kelly, Jacqueline Bennett, John Wilkin, Dom Bennett
Photographer
Brett Boardman

Alexandria is quickly changing from a fairly gritty urban environment, once home to warehouses and light industrial uses, to sophisticated housing. Many who were priced out of the terrace market but still wanted the convenience of living relatively close to the city, were drawn to this new project on busy Mitchell Road. Conceived for developer Livstyle, the 2,000-square-metre site occupies an unusual triangular-shaped area.

 

From the outset, Teracota was designed by Bennett Murada Architects to provide an alternative to the terraces nearby, for those looking for considerably larger apartments than what’s normally offered on the market-often small price driven apartments rather than homes to live in. Here, there are 14 three-level terrace-style homes of approximately 160 square metres in area with seven apartments (130 to 150 square metres) crowning this development. The 1880s heritage-listed building at the apex of the site, originally a bank, was also transformed in two large apartments – one on each level.

Given the location on a busy thoroughfare, the primary material selected for the façade was steel, rumbled bricks, breeze blockwork and timber-battens to define the entry to each terrace. And to loosely delineate the terraces from the apartments, the latter were constructed in off-formed concrete and generous glazing that leads to balconies. While there aren’t the traditional hallmarks found in a Victorian terrace, the scale of the rooms, combined with generous ceiling heights, certainly creates a sense of a home, a low-maintenance one at that, with a compact courtyard rather than a backyard. However, unlike the Victorian terrace, with its delicate wrought iron lacework, the presentation to the busy street is considerably more robust.

 

However, as with many terraces, the ground floor features the kitchen, dining and living areas that lead to a courtyard, brick paved in keeping with the development’s façade. Concrete breezeblocks allow for privacy as well as diffuses the harsh western sunlight. On the first floor, there are two bedrooms with a shared bathroom. And at the lower ground level is the garage, laundry and storage areas. In contrast, the three-bedroom apartments at top level, orientated to the east, benefit from their own roof terrace gardens.

 

Those who thought they had to move out of Alexandria to find a spacious home responded quickly to this project when it was initially released on the market and not surprisingly, Teracota received a Commendation from the Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter) in 2021 and, shortly after it was completed, an award for its use of bricks.

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