Cheong House Studio, Castlecrag

Cheong House Studio, Castlecrag The Cheong House was designed in 1922 by Walter Burley Griffin. It is one of the series of Griffin-designed houses in The Parapet, Castlecrag built for investors in The Greater Sydney Development Association to serve as a model for the intended suburban development.

The house sits at the rear of the lot, is orientated to the view and sun and aligned to the adjoining Moon House. A later addition of a separate laundry building was made by Hugh & Eva Buhrich in 1946. This building forms a suntrap that also provides privacy for the occupants yet allows the house to be appreciated from all sides. It is this building that was altered to create a new studio and adjoining shower, WC and laundry room.

Before emigrating to Australia, the Buhrichs lived and worked in Switzerland. In 1922 the Swiss/French architect, Le Corbusier, had designed a small house for his parents on the shore of Lake Geneva in Switzerland. The Buhrichs would have been aware of this house and we think that Hugh and Eva were inspired by this small house when they designed the suntrap for fellow émigrés, the Souhamis who, by 1946, owned the Cheong House.

The physical similarities between the roofed terrace of the Swiss house and the Buhrich suntrap are remarkable. The Le Corbusier house not only had the covered verandah which inspired the suntrap it also had a long window overlooking the lake. We took this as a reference when designing the one metre wide addition to the south of the existing laundry at the Cheong House. The one metre wide addition enabled us to create a sizeable studio which looked out into the garden and had oblique views to the east.

In order to relate the addition we clad the whole studio structure in anthracite-coloured zinc that tied in with the sandstone of the Griffin house.

The studio addition was short-listed in the Australian Institute of Architects (NSW Chapter) Heritage Architecture Award in 2011.