McCarthy Residence



This project is an exploration of compressed spaces, designed to feel larger than they really are, and continues an ongoing exploration of the ‘framed view’.


McCarthy Residence 26_rear elevation_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence_elevation 2_rear (east)_Stephen Varady Image ©

In 1969, architect Glenn Murcutt designed an alteration/addition to the rear ground floor of this suburban bungalow to become his own house and first project. A Mies-ian inspired work, his design removed all internal walls channelling the focus of attention to the garden outside.

McCarthy Residence 04_living area_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Since Murcutt took the Farnsworth House by Mies van der Rohe as his inspiration for the rear alteration, I took the Barcelona Pavilion by Mies as the inspiration for the new carport at the front.

McCarthy Residence_elevation 1_front (west)_Stephen Varady Image ©

McCarthy Residence 01_view from street_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 02_new carport_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The brief was to revitalise the ground floor with refurbishments to the bathroom, children’s bedrooms and kitchen, and to add a private parents’ bedroom suite on a new first floor, containing a study/home office, bedroom, bathroom, and dressing room.

McCarthy Residence_plan 0_ground floor_Stephen Varady Image ©

McCarthy Residence_plan 1_first floor_Stephen Varady Image ©

McCarthy Residence 06_living area with new glass ceiling_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 08_dining area + breakfast bar_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 09_kitchen_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 10_kitchen_recessed cooktop + gold splashback_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 16_daughter's bedroom_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 17_son's bedroom_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The first-floor addition takes its initial cues from the Murcutt approach, by also channelling the view to the garden at the rear – a view that is completely screened from the neighbours by existing trees. The extension of the view is further explored through the glazed layering of the relatively modest spaces of the addition.

McCarthy Residence 18_3D drawing of first floor extension_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 19_hallway + dressing room_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The access hallway is 1.5m wide and lined with cupboards creating a dressing room that runs along the full length of the northern side, framing the view of the garden at the end. Highlight windows run down the north and south sides allowing natural light, ventilation and views of the sky from all spaces while ensuring complete privacy from close neighbours.

McCarthy Residence 03_new first floor extension_Stephen Varady Photo ©


McCarthy Residence_section 1_Stephen Varady Image ©

McCarthy Residence 20_study_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The study is deliberately private with the Frank Lloyd Wright inspired ring of highlight windows, focusing attention on the work at the desk.

McCarthy Residence 21_view to parents bedroom_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The design introduces a courtyard between the bedroom and bathroom with each space ‘borrowing’ from the other to create an illusion of a much greater space in each. Therefore, the bathroom is not merely 1.5m wide because it ‘borrows’ space from the 1.8m courtyard, and looks through to the bedroom and the trees beyond.

McCarthy Residence 31_glass courtyard + hallway_Stephen Varady Photo ©

Glass is the main material in the new extension. It is used as a transparent, translucent and solid material – with both its transparency and reflectivity taken full advantage of. The perception of space is increased through the use of glass, with each space ‘borrowing’ light and space from the others.

McCarthy Residence 29_en-suite_view in vanity mirror_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 30_en-suite_view from courtyard_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The courtyard floor is laminated translucent glass – filtering natural light to the refurbished living room below.

McCarthy Residence 32_en-suite_shower + glass bath_Stephen Varady Photo ©

In the bathroom, glass is used as a solid cladding material with the walls and floor lined in white ‘Colourback’ glass. Due to the natural green tint of glass, the bathroom takes on a green tone which complements the ‘water’ theme of the space. Glass technology is explored further in the design of the clear glass bath.

McCarthy Residence 33_en-suite_glass bath detail_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 37_en-suite_glass bath_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 34_en-suite_view from bath_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 36_en-suite_sliding door tracks + drain detail_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 35_en-suite_view through glass roof_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 38_courtyard + en-suite_dusk_Stephen Varady Photo ©

The bedroom has a single 3m high x 3.6m wide steel-framed glazed sliding door. It is detailed to slide on the outside of the house, to conceal the frame and better connect the bedroom with the garden, perhaps creating an illusion of sleeping in the canopy of the trees.

McCarthy Residence 22_parents bedroom_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 25_sliding door + balustrade detail_closed_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 24_sliding door + balustrade detail_open_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 26_rear elevation_Stephen Varady Photo ©

McCarthy Residence 27_parents bedroom from trees 1_Stephen Varady Photo ©



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