The Backyard House embodies HAA’s ethos – good design, strong planning and advocacy skills and high environmental standards. Built as a secondary dwelling, it is located on a small footprint in a heritage conservation area in Sydney’s inner west.

Uncommon for a secondary dwelling, the house has two storeys and two bedrooms. There is excellent sun access. Thoughtful landscaping by Tropic of Sydney creates a sense of privacy and space between the two homes on this smallish block of land. Detailing throughout the house is beautifully resolved.

Cross ventilating, insulated and sealed, as well as acoustically protected, Backyard House is designed for the environmental comfort for its occupants. Air-conditioning is unnecessary. All the timber is sustainably grown. Water retention on the site collects and reuses large amounts of water for both houses.

The Backyard House required patience, commitment and creativity from the architects, the builders and clients. Negotiation of a tricky consent involved several authorities. With the site impacted by a sewer, the design uses minimal piers. Before building could commence, delicate but major excavation and reinforcement work was necessary to protect sewer and water lines. It demonstrates that even heritage areas can contribute to the increased density requirements of the NSW government.

Photos © Mark Syke, Drone image © Alex Thomson