Earlwood is affectionately known by many locals as a hidden gem. The suburb is located a mere 10 kilometres south-west of central Sydney and is bordered by several waterways that feed into Botany Bay, lending it an almost island-like quality. Earlwood stands apart from the high property prices and limited space of nearby hipster suburbs such as Dulwich Hill and Marrickville, and it also escapes the consistently onerous heritage and development controls demanded by many of the inner-city councils.
The owners of Shed House, a family of five comprising two furniture makers and their three children, initiated a conversation with Breakspear Architects after discovering and deeply admiring an earlier house executed by the same practice in a nearby suburb. That project, aptly named Courted House, contains a rigorous band of rooms that internalizes a garden to create a hidden little oasis for its occupants. Inspired by this remarkable achievement, the owners sought to capture a similar essence in their own dwelling.
In response, Breakspear Architects reflected on the renowned Beachcomber houses that are scattered throughout New South Wales. This project home model was designed by Croatian-born architect Nino Sydney for Lend Lease Homes in the 1960s, and its compact format provided an innovative, Bauhaus-inspired approach to affordable housing (see Revisited, Houses 150). Notably, the Beachcomber elevated living spaces above ground level, liberating the ground plane – a concept reminiscent of Le Corbusier’s iconic Villa Savoye (1928). Embracing these architectural precedents, Breakspear Architects has employed a similar strategy in the design of Shed House. The design team has elevated the primary living spaces, including the kitchen and all the bedrooms. This clever manoeuvre has allowed the ground floor to become a flexible space