Houses — Balmain House

Balmain House

  • Selected and featured Wallpaper Magazine "top 20 young practices in the world" 2013.
  • Commendation in the 2013 National Institute of Architects Awards, 2013
  • Architecture Award in the 2013 NSW Institute of Architects Awards, 2013
  • Timber Design Award, 2013
  • Commendation in the Intergrain Timber Vision Awards, 2013
  • Shortlisted in the 2013 House of the Year award by Houses Magazine
  • IDEA awards interior design award, shortlisted
Owner Builder
Partridge & Partners
Brett Boardman


  • Featured in Wallpaper Magazine, 2013
  • Featured in The Australian - Life Magazine, "Conrad Johnston's Skewed Perspective transforms a Balmain Cottage"
  • Featured in AR Magazine, "Balmain House", December 2013
  • Featured in Domain "Collectors Addition", September 2013
  • Featured in Architecture Australia, November 2013
  • Featured in Arch Daily, August 2013
  • Featured in the Sunday Telegraph, "Renovating for a Family Retreat", August 2013
  • Featured in ArchitectureAU, "Balmain House", September 2013
  • Featured in the Daily Telegraph: "A narrow escape", August 2014
  • ArchitectureAU, “2013 National Architecture Awards: Residential – Houses”, November 2013.
  • Australian Design Review, December 2013
  • Featured in Architecture & Design, September 2013
  • Featured in Archello, August 2013.
  • Featured in Inside Outside Magazine, "Balmain House by Fox Johnston in Sydney", July 2014
  • Home DSGN, April 2013
  • Design Father, August 2013

This house was designed to provide simple, functional, generous, private and light-filled living spaces for a young family within the constraints of a small inner city block sandwiched between 14 adjacent properties.

Our central idea was to wrap the original workers’ cottage with a continuous series of indoor and outdoor spaces. Spatially, we have used the small block to maximise advantage, setting up a dialogue between the garden space and the interior living areas to create the illusion of a bigger site. Each downstairs living room – interior and exterior- ‘borrows’ space from the other, maximising volume, light and air. Floating above the ground plane is a sculpted, faceted timber volume containing the main bedroom, ensuite, library/gallery and study. The upstairs spaces have been carefully shaped and designed to preserve neighbouring views and sunshine, to open the house to sunlight and ventilation, and to provide views to garden vistas and the surrounding harbour and Anzac Bridge views.

The material palette is simple, natural and textural, and sustainability and reducing energy usage were also key considerations. A natural ventilation system and hydronic heating is provided in the new house, and the project utilises recycled and sustainable building products.