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How SSD Studio played architectural lego on this Paddington worker’s c...

How SSD Studio played architectural lego on this Paddington worker’s cottage

How SSD Studio played architectural lego on this Paddington worker’s cottage

In a tree-lined Paddington Street, a family home adds charm, light and character to a heritage worker’s cottage.

Layered House, neatly tucked between a row of single storey cottages on a long tree lined street in Paddington, is a classic case of “more than meets the eye”. Situated in a Heritage Conservation Zone, SSD Studio was not only faced with tight space parameters (party walls etc) but with strict conservation logistics.

“This concept is respectful to the character of the existing home yet contemporary in design and detailing,” explains studio director Sophie Solomon. “The clients loved the Victorian heritage features of the home, (the husband is English), but wanted more space and light with a simple, classic material palette.”

As a result, the team envisioned a pared-back but light-filled transformation that would fulfil the brief requirements of an additional bedroom, new kitchen and improved connection to the garden.

SSD Architects - Paddington worker’s cottage

The team were blessed with a Southerly orientation to the rear courtyard garden, as well as a high sandstone wall, offering privacy and a rear lane elevated at the back yet a classic worker’s cottage layout with small rooms off a single corridor. 

Two strategic moves involved opening up the front bedroom, transforming it into the main living room – bringing more natural light and ventilation into the home – while completely demolishing the rear and rebuilding it as a two-storey addition (with the second storey hidden as an attic, to suit council’s requirements). 

The second level bedroom and bathroom were then set back to create a void over the dining room with concealed skylights drawing light down into the kitchen and dining area as well as the rear south facing room and bedroom. “

SSD Architects - Paddington worker’s cottage

The double height of the dining room allowed for tall steel framed doors to open out onto the garden and bring light and connection into the living spaces,” continues Sophie.

From a sustainability perspective, the team were dedicated to retaining as much of the fabric – and therefore embodied energy – of the home as possible. Low VOC paints and natural materials were specified throughout, a combination of engineered timber floorboards and painted timber battens to the stair.

SSD Architects - Paddington worker’s cottage

Layered House’s elegantly restrained interior is due in part to the clients’ clear vision for a classic material palette that combined timber, marble, black steel and leather while the timber battered stair adds an element of character and complexity.

Project details

Interior architecture – SSD Studio
Photography – Simon Whitbread

We think you might like this heritage home in Melbourne that has been reworked for new life by its architect owner

SSD Architects - Paddington worker’s cottage
SSD Architects - Paddington worker’s cottage
SSD Architects - Paddington worker’s cottage


Elana Castle is an architect, writer and photographer. She has spent her time traveling and working across the globe with stints in New York City, Cape Town, Sydney and currently resides once more in New York City. In 2009, she established STUDIO e* as a framework for her architecture, writing and photography and in 2012 she went on to co-found Castle + Beatty, an architecture and interiors photography business with an editorial edge.