Sydney eastern suburbs architects – Designing liveable spaces

Remodeling and Home Design

New generation boarding house at Maroubra is nearing completion

This new building of efficient practical self-contained units rejects the run-down older boarding house of the past; rather it reflects the growing needs of young professionals and students in the area including comfortable and well-appointed layouts and with the right balance of community space.

These contemporary studios have their own bathroom and kitchenette and with most units having their own courtyard or balcony. Benefits of community living are provided with a shared: common room, kitchen and laundry. Also shared is a landscaped courtyard with a firepit for barbecue entertaining. The building has 2 car spaces and bike parking.

Close to Pacific Square, Maroubra beach and buses, this new boarding house serves the popular needs of UNSW student accommodation.


Multi-unit boarding house (self-contained units for rent)
1 x building over 2 levels
9 x 1-2 bed single room studios with bathroom, kitchenette and most with courtyard or balcony
Shared space: common room, kitchen, laundry and courtyard
2 car spaces and bike parking
Anzac Parade, Maroubra
Randwick Council jurisdiction
Under construction

Response to the ‘Ten Design Quality Principles’

This statement responds to the ‘Ten Design Quality Principles’ as listed in the Design Quality of Residential Flat Development SEPP 65 Provisions and are listed as follows:

01. Context

• The corner site at 756 Anzac Parade Maroubra (zoned R2) is currently occupied by a single storey, 3 bedroom brick cottage with roof tiles typical of the relatively low cost housing built in the area during the 1970’s. As a building type along Anzac Parade, it is somewhat isolated since 4 out of the 5 buildings to the north are two storey brick walk up apartments. The other building is a pair of semi detached dwellings. To the south is the International French School of Sydney whist along Moverly Road, the adjoining property is some distance away having its garaging located on the shared boundary.

• Accordingly, the subject site appears underutilised and low key in relation to the adjoining properties. It does not mark the intersection with any building element nor does it match the heights of nearby buildings. Rather, it shrinks away from the building edge leading up to this point and presents a low scaled, domestic building with a very public, turfed front yard.

• Significantly, the subject site is within walking distance to public transport leading to the city and the University of NSW. Also nearby are primary and secondary schools, retail areas (Eastgardens and Pacific Square), Maroubra Beach, hospitals, Sydney Airport, Coral Sea and Heffron Parks and other recreational areas around the Maroubra district. The immediate area is also conducive to easy walking and cycling, the topography flat with level accessible pathway networks.

• Therefore, it is arguably a suitable site for a small apartment building. However, given its R2, Low Density Residential zoning, a modest sized boarding house seems appropriate.

02. Scale

• Given the context of the subject site with its corner position and nearby apartment buildings and schools, the site area of 576.2m2 provides a good opportunity for an appropriately scaled boarding house.

• The proposed height is well under the 9.5 overall height limit and a little under the height of the adjacent apartment building. Similarly, the external wall height also complies with the 7.5m height restriction.

• The side setback is generous at over 3m (1.2m minimum required under the DCP) whilst the front setback aligns with its neighbour on Anzac Parade and is recessed further than the adjacent garaging along Moverly Road.

• The architectural treatment of elevations using material, colour and facade modulation has minimised scale by breaking up large areas of vertical/horizontal flat walls.

• Therefore, all the criteria affecting scale in the relevant DCP and LEP requirements have been comfortably met, the building is in keeping with the heights of adjoining buildings and lastly, facades have been suitably modelled to avoid large areas of building mass. The building is therefore appropriately scaled for the area.

03. Built Form

• The building form is driven by its wedged shaped property boundaries and corner position.

• It is therefore long in the east/west direction, providing good northern exposure and a suitable southern edge treatment to the street edge with Moverly Road. At the street intersection with Anzac Parade, the building presents its narrowest edge, helping to turn the apartments running north around the corner to Moverly Road.

• Within the vertical plane and facade treatment, the building is ordered into two clear levels: a base which is heavier and anchors the building, an upper level which is lighter and modelled with more open balonies to each end. There is also an upper edge defined to this level to separate the roof element and to visually align with the parapet features along Anzac Parade.

• A small roof ridge feature, not visible from the street, extends a little above the plan of the roof to allow natural light, sun and breeze through to the upper rooms. Although not large, it provides a little storage area and skylights to the north and south to improve amenity to these rooms.

• To clarify, these skylight/storage areas are NOT an attempt at a 3rd level, offering a under 10m2 to each room in area and a head height from 1640 to 2100 (see Section A-A). They are far less than a conventional roof space one would normally find within a tiled, pitched roof. However, by opening them up to the centre of the building, a far better outcome with regards to sun, light and breeze is achieved.

04. Density

• The proposed boarding house consists of 11 rooms, common area and associated cars (2), motorbikes (3) and bicycles (3). This has been accommodated on the site with an FSR of 0.69:1, greater than the allowance of 0.5:1. Nevertheless, both site coverage and deep soil requirements are met whilst setbacks and height restrictions are comfortably within council guidelines. Given its corner position and adjacent residential flat buildings and schools, the increase in FSR is appropriate to achieving a density in keeping with its built environment and inner city location.

• The type of density is also appropriate as it is close to the University of New South Wales and its more transient population. Randwick City Council requires low cost accommodation for students and other single younger peoples on low incomes while they study or attend learning institutions.

• Similarly, the 2 x accessible rooms will provide accommodation for those disabled or aged people visiting the hospitals on a regular basis, also situated within a relatively flat, accessible terrain enroute to public transport.

• As indicated above, there is good access to infrastructure, public transport and community facilities to support the proposed density.

05. Resource, energy and water efficiency

• Due to the east west orientation of the site and the resulting orientation of the building, over 80% of individual rooms will receive 3 hours of sunlight during mid-winter. Similarly, given the northern location of over 80% of all courtyards, most private open spaces will receive a minimum of 3 hours of direct sunlight in mid-winter. Given that the common courtyard faces north, all residents will have access to a sunny courtyard. Sun diagrams have been provided.

• Since the building depth is well under 18m and individual rooms are often at corner junctions and/or with roof lights, over 70% will be naturally cross ventilated.

• All kitchens are well under 8m from, or have direct access to, a window for ventilation purposes.

• There will be good thermal mass provided by the masonry and concrete construction and the pitched roof with insulated void areas.

• The date above demonstrates that individual rooms and the common space will provide controlled access to sun, light and breeze thereby minimising the use of artificial heating and cooling. Similarly, building tolerances shall provide opportunities for high levels of insulation and thermal mass to regulate heat loss and gain during the extreme seasons.

• A 2000 litre common rainwater tank shall be provided to service garden watering and the common laundry.

• Other water and energy efficiency measures, are provided in the BASIX Certificate.

06. Landscape

• A site coverage of only 33% is well under council’s maximum requirement of 50%, thus making large areas available for external use by the occupants.

• A deep soil area of 30% complies with council requirements resulting in generous areas of perimeter planting to screen and soften the building.

• All ground floor, individual rooms are provided with access to courtyards, including the common room. Over 80% shall have northern sun for well over 3 hours per day in winter. This exceeds councils DCP requirements. A further 2 individual rooms are provided with balconies that will receive approximately 2 hours of sun per day in winter. All external courtyards and balconies are off habitable areas.

• All side setbacks are a minimum of 3m and are well landscaped. This provision far exceeds Council’s minimum setback requirement of 1.2m.

• The front setback is also well landscaped and greater than the average setback of adjoining buildings to the north.

07. Amenity

• Planning arrangements have created suitably sized open planned individual rooms with good access to sun, light and cross breezes. Small kitchen benches and bathroom facilities shall provide above average facilities for boarding house accommodation.

• As discussed in more detail under “Resource, energy and water efficiency”, sunlight and natural ventilation will be accessible to most units.

• All ceiling heights shall be 2700.

• Individual room courtyards and a landscaped common area will provide suitably sized and located outdoor areas off living spaces for the enjoyment of occupants.

• There is suitably sized storage provided to all individual rooms.

• Bin storage facilities are located outside the parking area in lock-up enclosures where it is protected from weather, accessible to units and visually discrete.

08. Safety and security

• There will be good surveillance of the public entry thoroughfares from adjoining individual rooms and the common area main stair.

• There will be security systems installed for the main entrance. See Operation Plan of Management for details.

• Lighting to the landscaped and entry areas shall help to provide greater surveillance to maintain security.

• The separating out of pedestrian and vehicle movement will also ensure safety of people through to their rooms and a clear and organised method of bringing visitors and residents through the site.

• Since the driveway and carpark entry is at street level and the building is well set back from the street, there will be good sight lines for cars entering into and out of the carpark.

09. Social Dimensions

• As mentioned previously, the boarding house room type and size is suitable for the single, more transient population of university students one would expect in the area. A sunny, common room on the northern side with access to a sunny courtyard shall provide incentives for use by the occupants and encourage socialising.

• There is also a generous sized entry area and main stair with nearby common laundry facilities which are likely to encourage chance meetings throughout the day and evening.

• As also discussed previously, the area is well resourced with transport, shopping centres, schools, recreational parks and beaches. Together with the amenities provided in the development and the likely costs of construction to determine rental price, we believe the development will be suitable for the social context of the area.

10. Aesthetics

• For the most part, the aesthetics of this proposal has been generated by the unusual, wedged shaped site geometry, the practical planning considerations and the issues of streetscape, bulk and scale. More specifically, they have been:

• Ensuring that the building addresses the intersection by aligning with the buildings to the north and accordingly, the predominant building edge, providing a feature balcony at the corner junction and arranging the highest section of the roof at this point.

• The roof element has been kept simple but bold, defined as a separate feature to the lower levels through the use of material and colour changes.

• The ground floor is defined as a more solid, masonry element to anchor the building, the upper level is somewhat lighter in appearance with a more domestic cladding choice which slides behind stronger balcony features and entrance openings.

• There is a strong modulation of the facades using protruding and recessed elements as a means of defining and ordering the building. This works by providing a visual expression, not only to the horizontal planes of roof, body and base, but also across the length of the building along its strong building edge to emphasis the main entrance, balcony and/or first floor projections.

• Even, neutral shades progressing from lights to dark help with this modulation and form a back drop to the main warm colour of the panelling system.