Architects: Welsh & Major
Location: Sydney, Australia
Project Team: David Welsh, Christine Major, Min Dark
Structural & Civil Engineer: Simpson Design Associates
Total Building Size: 165 sqm
Photographs: Welsh & Major, Paul Bradshaw
The new pavilion presents a chapter in the evolving story of how people continue to live in this place. The house we found when we were first commissioned was a familiar type: a 2-storey terrace, relatively intact at the front, with additions to the side and the rear. The rear of the property presented as a series of elements accumulated over time- kitchens, laundries terraces and stairs. Our approach was to selectively remove some of the elements, and add a few new ones along the way.
The massing of the house was treated as an oversized still life: the composition of the elements creating an additional 6 square metres to the house we found. The average size house in Australia is now beyond 300 square metres and is still rising- this increase in pressure on our resources can’t be sustained indefinitely. Consequently, we feel it is important to offer flexible spaces rather than excessive additional space in responding to the needs of the inhabitants of our houses. Fortunately, our Clients agreed with us.
What we don’t do in our projects is often just as important as the work we do. Wherever possible we try to avoid demolition of existing structures in order to reduce material flows as well as project cost. Internally the upper floor arrangement was left unaltered, whilst downstairs the front of the house was also left unaltered- the rear wing was the main area we concentrated upon. One of the main aims of the project was to connect the rear lawn with the living spaces of the house. In a relatively benign Sydney climate, a key part of the brief was to be able to open the house up to the outside.
Re- setting the kitchen and associated living space on grade with the rear lawn expanded the effective living space of the house to include the outdoor spaces. A new internal bathroom was added, and an existing rear sitting room was altered to become a study. Finally, a vestibule area that linked the formal Dining room to the rear yard was re-configured to hold a daybed, which could be closed off to serve as short-term guest accommodation when required.
The rear of the house faces predominantly south. The new roof forms create a lantern form that allow northern and eastern sunlight to penetrate the house between March and October. The new floor slab is electronically heated using a system that reduces the time it takes to heat the slab, and consequently keep running costs low.
The house is an exercise in small, considered interventions that contribute to the built landscape in an environmentally responsible manner. Just as importantly, it is a flexible, comfortable family home that suits the needs of our Clients.