Metal kitchen overlooking Sydney Harbor
Nineteenth century residence at the port of Sydney. Recovering history on the Waterfront

The ingenuity of the design and respect for its original structure, the Gothic Revival, provide the Australian studio AJ+C with a residence of 1870 degraded on the port of Sydney in the 21st century to be completely renovated

When you cross the threshold of the Maybanke GOTICO REVIVAL, Sydney Harbour's waterfront house with a distinct history, you'll go back 150 years in just a few steps

Historic house renovated

Panoramic visits to the water, an abundance of penetrating lights from the antipodes and a five-storey sculptural staircase - which together would surely have bewildered and astonished the sensitivity of the individuals who built the original building in the 1970s - certainly letting the modern visitor know in which century this house currently belongs exactly

Historic house renovated

Not that AJ + C had a great deal of the original fabric to celebrate - and thus massage - in contemporary times. For years the building had been left empty in architectural limbo, like a block of anonymous apartments

Historic house renovated

Anderson was the sister of the famous local engineer of the time, Norman Selfe, who owned Normanton, the house next door. Selfe designed and built the adjacent houses in 1876-1877 and, in 1938, Maybanke was unceremoniously transformed into an old condominium without worrying about any aesthetic or historical relationship with the adjacent neighbour

Historic house renovated

Maybanke has been transformed from a bourgeois residence into a multi-employee home, a cramped but functional place no less than 70 years old. The basic concept was that, since much of the original fabric had disappeared, any new additions would have to be reconstructed as full-scale contemporary architecture

Historic house renovated

Before any work to improve and add to the Victorian structure could begin a final struggle against the mudiness of the Sydney sandstone rammed on which it stands, it had to be conducted and conquered at considerable cost and for a period of almost eight months. The work was arduous, all the foundations of the building of 1870 were removed, the house suspended and the slabs were inserted under the existing walls. When the owners raised the floorboards, an inner lake was found. The water must have been there for who knows how long

Historic house renovated

Today the front and side facades have been renovated with bay windows, balconies, fireplaces, copper pipes and dormer windows in a mansard roof and Gothic Revival ornamental stone cladding as well as supports and other elements. If you look closely, you can see that on the new facade of the building the attention to detail has been extraordinary. A local expert stonemason was used for the renovation, sculpting exquisite details over the doors and windows and making sketches of the project by Architect Caroline Kite of AJ + C. The connection between the levels of the house is an elevator with glass walls. It maximizes the sense of volume and therefore, using glass provides light and views into space at all levels according to designer Koopman

Historic house renovated

Going down the length of the staircase there is a steel screen stretched as a balustrade, manufactured and imported from Germany. Installing such a demanding contemporary architectural element in an old building was not easy. A lot of science and technology was used to make everything work so that it could be adjusted over the years

Historic house renovated

The five-storey scheme revolves around the idea that during the working week they are the two central floors in which people live. It is equivalent to a one-bedroom apartment on two levels with direct access from the street. The rest of the time the house is designed as a place to entertain friends and host visiting families of the owners

Historic house renovated

The entrance is on the level of the master bedroom with its impressive walk-in closet and private bathroom overlooking the harbour. At the level below the street using an elevator or exposed concrete staircase is the main living space, facing north-east on its small inner western corner of the Sydney Harbour known as Snails Bay. At the level above the street are the guest rooms and living spaces

Historic house renovated

Under the attic roof on the upper level there is an autonomous space that can function in a variable way as a home office, a guest house or an entertainment space for New Year's Eve. The space also boasts a small roof terrace in front of the harbour. And finally an artist's studio was carved from the sandstone that opens onto the garden terraces and lilypond

Historic house renovated

At this level, there is now also a cellar, which extends from the kitchen, the laundry room and the shop. The dining area opens onto another terrace overlooking the garden, which includes a cold water immersion pool that descends towards the edge of the port, much lower down

Historic house renovated

Gallery