Architect Emili Fox saw the cliff not as a challenge but as an opportunity to build a wellness-focused home for her family.

The view from the kitchen-dining room shows the glassed-in, central garden lightwell, accessible via large sliders.

When scrolling through photos of architect Emili Fox’s new home, one can practically feel the texture of the concrete floors underfoot, the smoothed grain of the wood cabinetry, and the warmth of the sun on the front patio. But such tactile delights were not always a hallmark of life on this Birchgrove neighborhood lot, says Fox, who is codirector of the Sydney-based firm Fox Johnston. 

Architect Emili Fox’s Sydney home has a walled exterior courtyard between the street entrance and the home.

Architect Emili Fox’s Sydney home has a walled exterior courtyard between the front street entrance and the home.

Brett Boardman

Fox’s home design encompasses 2637 square feet across four levels, and includes a garage, an independent unit for guests, and two floors for her family of four.

Fox’s home design encompasses 2,637 square feet across four levels, and includes a garage, an independent unit for guests/family, and two floors for her family of four.

Anson Smart

Fox and her husband bought a near derelict two-bedroom house in the Sydney suburb in 2014 and lived in it for four years. While the site had promising water views to the north, its best qualities weren’t embraced by the existing house, which was invaded by both black mold and possums at some point. 

“It was a long period to be living in such an unhealthy environment,” says Fox. “We could be sitting in the dark indoors, rugged up, and suddenly go outside to see it’s a sunny day. The kids shared a room and didn’t have a window. But we saw the potential.” 

A photovoltaic roof array supplies 92% of the home’s electricity usage, with future plans to increase those capabilities with battery storage. There are also systems for rainwater harvesting and greywater recycling.

A photovoltaic roof array supplies 92% of the home’s electricity usage, with future plans to increase those capabilities with battery storage. There are also systems for rainwater harvesting and gray water recycling.

Photo: Brett Boardman

See the full story on Dwell.com: This Sun-Soaked Sydney Residence Sits on a Sandstone Ledge
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