When you first find ZZ Top House, nestled between Victorian cottages in a warehouse district of Sydney, it’s hard to tell what you’re looking at. Is the kitchen and living room outdoors? Are there walls or windows on the ends? This modern home is full of unexpected surprises that bring the outdoors in — or turn the inside out. Designer CplusC Architectural Workshop created the home to make use of a unique site, while making what was originally a Victorian home sustainable and usable for a modern family.

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A home hidden within view

The house was designed on a long and inwardly looking site with “zero view bounded by two warehouses,” according to the designers. How can you take a site like that and create a beautiful home, much less one that takes in the outdoors? ZZ Top House is a unique and refreshing take on domestic living and integrating with the natural world, especially considering how little of it the designers had to work with.

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An open area of a living room

ZZ Top House actually started out as a dual frontage Victorian terrace house in McMahon’s Point Sydney. The design was inspired by two shapes, the geode and the zigzag. CplusC took the space, combined indoor and outdoor living areas, and thus created a ton of visual interest to keep the eye busy without the use of outdoor views. You always feel you are discovering this house, finding new details about how the space is used. Everything from the shape of the home, to the surroundings, to the materials used is unexpected and something you discover as you walk through the space.

A living room that connects to another room

Furthermore, Geodes inspired this house because they have no view from the outside. Instead, a geode is a crystal formation that is all on the inside of a space. You can’t help but be surprised and impressed by the 3.8-meter high soaring louvres and skylights that draw natural light into the space in an unusual way. The floors, the louvred windows and the half-marble, half-wood kitchen counter extend the zigzag theme through every surface of the living space.

A living room with gray sofa facing a TV

Believe it or not, ZZ Top House has four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. The first floor is taken up by kitchen and dining room. The upper level features the same balcony seen outside, and also has views of the brick wall of the living room. It creates an internal upstairs space and an external shell for the house’s guaranteed privacy. On the lower level, a living room extends out into a covered terrace and garden. A firepit and benches incorporate, rather than block out the industrial surroundings by taking in a mural projected onto the nearby warehouse at night.

An island with bar stools

Additionally, an extension of glass continues to protect and shade the outdoor terrace. Meanwhile, filtering natural light helps create the impression of the outdoor living spaces being indoors. Plants flow naturally from the steps down into the garden outside. Internal arched doorways were kept from the original design, adding historical details and interests.

An outdoor garden area

Added to all this beauty is a 10 kilowatt-hour solar system supported by Tesla battery storage, cross ventilation, passive solar, insulation and thermal mass optimization to minimize energy use in the home. Electricity bills for this house are near zero year long. The house’s redesign also made use of recycled floor boards, dry-pressed bricks and restoring, rather than demolishing. A lot of the original features of the original Victorian home create a new home that is completely unique, but retains the best of the past without leaving any extra carbon footprint.

+ Clinton Cole from CplusC Architectural Workshop

Images via CplusC