Great design, teamwork and sharing is the key to maximising project value with New Build Semi’s or ‘Duplexes’

In recent years Archisoul Architects have seen an increase in clients looking to build a pair of new semi-detached homes, otherwise known as a ’duplex’.

A duplex can be defined as a pair of houses with a partially shared structure. This can either be above/below each other or side by side with a shared party wall. Side by side has the benefit of feeling like two houses rather than ground and first-floor apartments which have made it a more popular option. People generally prefer to have a street-level front door and direct garden access for both homes and it also helps to reduce noise disturbance caused by footsteps or music from an upstairs neighbour.


C&D House - Semi

Images above showing two recent duplex projects on the Northern Beaches of Sydney by Archisoul Architects.

With developable land in Sydney increasing in price and becoming more scarce, people are getting more creative with the land that is available.

Often older homes were built on large plots when the land was at less of a premium. As renovation and heritage experts, Archisoul’s first instinct is to retain and improve these old homes, which has the environmental benefits of reducing waste and the contextual challenges that often lead to design inspiration. However, sometimes the old buildings don’t have any particular design merit and have been poorly constructed, making it more efficient and economical to knock down and build new. When this is combined with excess site area, we consider the possibility of creating two homes on the one site.

The way people choose to live is changing, meaning that smaller more manageable gardens are often preferred over large ones requiring significant upkeep. With a desire for perfectly proportioned open-planned living spaces rather than several independent living rooms, this can give people the space they want, with less building area.

This use of the site gives clients the chance to maximise their land value, funding their own dream home by selling or renting the other house or perhaps jointly investing in a plot with a friend who’s also looking to build.

Another increasing trend is for multi-generational living. Often retirees looking to downsize from their large family home at the same time as one of their children is looking to upgrade from an apartment and start a family. Investing together on a suitable site for two houses can save a huge amount of money and can have many other benefits. Many people like the idea of having their children’s grandparents on-hand for free child-care and many grandparents are equally pleased to help! This can, of course, be mutually beneficial in many ways for both households, although living next to the in-laws is not everyone’s idea of utopia!

There are many cost and environmental benefits of constructing two homes together. By reducing the builders set up costs and allowing shared resources, means base costs and excesses are substantially reduced. The same is true in the design phase, finding savings on consultant fees over the cost of building on two separate sites. However, this doesn’t mean the two houses must be identical. Archisoul always responds to an individual brief for each side and find interesting ways to make the two homes sit comfortably next to each other.

The orientation is critical to the design of duplexes. There is often the presumption that one side will be much nicer due to solar access or other site constraints such as traffic noise or views. Although this throws up challenges, it can always be overcome with clever design thinking to ensure both sides benefit from great sunlight, views, breezes, etc.

J&B House - Semi

C&D House - Semi

Images above show how internal courtyards and double-height spaces can increase the feeling of space and allow light to flood into the central areas, without exceeding councils strict floor space allowances. 

Archisoul uses advance 3d modelling and rendering software to bring our designs to life at an early stage. This allows clients to fully visualise how they will live in the spaces and how we can optimise the natural light through the different seasons. Our rendering capabilities are also a useful tool for selling the dream to potential purchasers or investors prior to construction.

Archisoul’s creative approach to embracing the challenges of a particular site is what leads to our projects unique personality and ‘soul’, not only adding value and sellability to the final design but also creating two fantastic homes to live in.

J&B House - Semi

C&D House - Semi

Australians love to live the outdoor life, but well designed indoor/outdoor spaces don’t need to be oversized to provide this appealing quality in a duplex.