Short Lane

Mixed-Use Apartment Building in Sydney Provides Privacy and a Connection to Nature

Located in Sydney’s inner-city neighborhood, Surry Hills, this mixed-use apartment building is an undertaking in providing humans with a connection to nature in a dense, urban setting known for its greenery. The outcome is a series of contained gardens inserted into exterior components clad in board-form concrete, such as the rooftop and private, cantilevered balconies. The plants chosen for the gardens are native to the region and meet minimal water requirements to prevent creating pollution through runoff. Furthering the project’s environmental agenda,  the staggered terraces along the façade provide shading against natural daylight and maintain thermal performance and privacy. Inside the building, which houses 22 apartments, windows are placed on both the northern and southern perimeter so tenants can enjoy cross ventilation as well as a full-height sliding glass door to their outdoor space. Understated interiors are styled with unfinished concrete ceilings and warm oak floors.

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Retail spaces defined by a black steel and powder-coated aluminum bay window frame are located at the street level. The upper residential section atop of the commercial element of the building was set back in a way that is apropos to the historic neighborhood. Because the area is revered for its walkability, a void was maintained between its eastern boundary neighbor, a Methodist church with similar materiality and cubist forms, so that pedestrians can travel throughout the neighborhood via the lane—ergo the moniker.


Komplete Construction




Sydney, Australia

Completion Date

March 2018


1,900 square meters


2019 INDE Awards, Winner of The Multi-Residential Building Award

Australian Institute of Architects, National Awards: Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing

Australian Institute of Architects, New South Wales Chapter Awards: Award for Residential Architecture – Multiple Housing

Reflecting the Surry Hills Lifestyle, a fine-grain retail component activates the street and links to the laneways via a new “Short Lane.”

Passive environmental design solutions and conscientious use of materials to offer a simple yet effective response to the site context.

All façades balance solidity for thermal performance with glazing for natural daylight, while deep balcony reveals afford passive shading.

Substantial and locally-suitable landscaping features on all levels of the building, providing deep soil zones for a range of planting areas.

Each living area has full-height sliding glass doors to an outdoor area, natrually screened by the structure’s staggering forms.

The communal areas of each apartment all have good cross ventilation with operable windows at either end of the space.

Understated interiors create a sophisticated urban retreat. Exposed concrete ceilings are balanced by the earthy warmth of oak floors.