SRG House by Fox Johnston

Completed: 2020

Architecture: Fox Johnston

Interiors: Fox Johnston

Builder: SQ Project with Dot Kom Carpentry

Structural: SDA

Landscape: Dangar Barin Smith

Colour Design: Lymesmith

Photography: Brett Boardman, Anson Smart

Original: Stuart Whitelaw, Frank Walsh, Marr Grounds & Sir

Building: Roy Grounds


  • Australian Interior Design Awards 2021, Residential Design – Shortlist
  • Houses Awards 2021- Houses Alts and Adds over 200m2 – Shortlist
  • Houses Awards 2021- Garden or Landscape – Shortlist
  • AIA NSW Architecture Awards 2021 – Heritage – Shortlist
  • AIA NSW Architecture Awards 2021 – Residential Arch – Houses Alts and Adds – Shortlist

A 1970s heritage-listed semi is re-engineered for contemporary family life. Keeping within the building footprint, architect Conrad Johnston has carved extra space and forged stronger connections to landscape and place, while maintaining the integrity of the original structure and material language.

The house is one of a pair of heritage-listed semis, built in 1972 on a steep waterfront site looking across the Parramatta River towards Iron Cove to the south, and Birkenhead Point to the west.

Built at a 45 degree angle to the street, the semi zig-zags along the south boundary to side-step trees and sandstone outcrops. Its three-storey concrete pillar and slab construction was infilled with floor-to-ceiling fixed glass. The superstructure was solid, but its timber cladding and windows were beyond repair. Inside, much of the original interior had been covered up and painted, concealing its materials and character. With no opening windows to the south and west facades, and an uninsulated flat roof, the building suffered extreme heat gain in summer and loss in winter. It relied on a commercial-scale air-conditioning whose mechanical plant occupied half the lower ground level

The pair of semis were owned by the eminent Melbourne architect Sir Roy Grounds and his son Marr Grounds, an architect, university lecturer and sculptor.

It is believed that Marr commissioned Stuart Whitelaw to design and oversee the construction of the semis (no. 6 and no. 8). Marr had occupied semi no. 6 while Roy used no. 8 as his Sydney pied-a-terre. To improve thermal efficiency, the redesign includes significant new openings in the original glazing grid for air circulation, and upgrades all glass to high performance. All facades are upgraded with high R-value insulation and the lower-ground level’s new concrete slab includes hydronic heating. The new self-contained studio has a green roof, high-performance glass and strategically located windows for natural light and air flow.

Fox Johnston Architects

All images courtesy of Fox Johnston

Fox Johnston

Conrad Johnston – Director
Director. B.Sc(Arch), BArch(Hon)(USYD), AIA, BOA, Nominated Architect 8270
Conrad Johnston’s reputation for achieving high quality design outcomes has been integral to the success of Fox Johnston, named as one of the top “20 young practices in the World” (Wallpaper Magazine 2013).
With a depth of experience ranging from concept design, regulatory approval and then project delivery, Johnston brings a bold, finely honed design aesthetic to the studio, delivering meaningful, tactile projects that reach for a singular vision aligning all the elements into a cohesive whole.
Developed through his pursuit of the exceptional, Conrad’s leading site-specific design responses are underpinned by the people and story behind the concept. This design philosophy has informed all of Fox Johnston’s projects and has led to many awards and outstanding local and international recognition.
“Our objective is to give our client a robust, integrated and superbly resolved solution that meets their brief, but also offers something they haven’t wholly expected.” Conrad Johnston


Level 1, 268A Devonshire Street
Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia

Phone+61 2 9211 2700


Fox Johnston


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s