Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons

Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Windows, Door, FacadeElwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - FacadeElwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Shelving, Chair, BeamElwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Sofa, Windows, BedroomElwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - More Images+ 10

Elwood, Australia

Text description provided by the architects. The existing home had extremely poor orientation, ventilation and connection to its surroundings. The resolution of these qualities in the extension was to embrace the northern aspect to the rear of the block privileging light, ventilation and the blurred delineation of interior and exterior.

Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Windows, Facade, Chair, Garden, Patio, Courtyard, Deck
© Michael Evans

It was imperative to currently improve the living quality for the young family but also plan for flexibility to adapt the space to suit the family’s needs well into the future. A significant request by the clients was to handle the transition of new to old with a considered contrast whilst settling the building into its neighbourhood context.

Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Facade
© Michael Evans

The aspiration was to create a graphic form that was in opposition to the existing house. The corner block provided an opportunity to handle this tension by having the new edition visible only from the side street whilst the existing frontage remains intact with its existing streetscape.

Materiality is utilised to express the graphic nature of the block forms that configure the rear elevation. A combination of cedar boards, brickwork, aluminium window frames and linear steel screens create the definition of the different forms.

Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Image 12 of 15
First Floor Plan

Spatial qualities

Private areas connect to the central corridor in the existing house then transition into the open communal living area  to promote family interaction and relaxation. This feeling is created through the open plan light filled space that has a seamless shift from interior to exterior & allows the backyard to become an extension of the living room and kitchen areas. The abundance of natural light and outlook evokes feelings of refuge and prospect that are undeniably relaxing.

Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Sofa, Table, Windows, Chair
© Michael Evans

The layout of the plan was carefully considered to create a comfortable flexible living arrangement for the family. The issue of addressing the poor orientation and lack of light in the existing property was handled by opening up the back living areas with extensive glazing that admits light, excellent ventilation and provides a connection to the garden.

The considered transition between existing and proposed is helped by a small courtyard that provides an abundance of natural light that floods into the existing, once internal living room.

Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Table, Chair, Countertop, Sink
© Michael Evans

Site and context

The untouched front elevation remains nestled amongst existing homes that were predominantly built in the early 19th century. The extension takes advantage of the inner suburban corner site and offered the opportunity to engage with two distinct streetscapes. The continuation of the wooden wall cladding on the rear façade onto the outdoor deck settles the building into its surrounds along with the contrast of the weight of the brick volume that rests upon the softer landscaping.

Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Bathroom, Sink, Lighting, Bathtub, Glass
© Michael Evans


The collaboration between the architect, interior designer, builder and the landscape architect has contributed to the realisation of the client’s desired outcome. The landscaping of the backyard was integral to settle the building into its context and to maintain the connection between the living areas and the garden. 

Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Bathroom, Sink, Bathtub
© Michael Evans

Cost and value

The simple construction methods minimised cost so that we could prioritise the expression of materials and finishes. The lightweight construction utilised for upstairs and the use of standard sized windows helped contribute to that cost minimisation.

Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons - Windows, Door, Facade
© Michael Evans


The importance of environmental sustainability was addressed through all our major design decisions. The existing living room had little natural ventilation directly into the room and views only through the kitchen and dining room; it was a dark room which required artificial lighting for the entire day. The insertion of the north facing light court opened the living room up into a bright and ventilated recreational area – operable and full length glazing to the light court provide an abundance of fresh air and daylight. The other living spaces also benefit from multiple access points to the private open space which will be connected by external decking, allowing for cross flow ventilation to the entire ground floor. The upper level master suite also has opportunities for cross flow ventilation with the added benefit of high level north facing windows for excellent solar penetration. The majority of the extension is clad with sustainably sourced Western Red Cedar.  The material produces fewer greenhouse gases, generates less water and air pollution, requires less energy to produce than alternatives and comes from a renewable plantation.

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Cite: "Elwood House / Robert Nichol & Sons" 22 Jun 2014. ArchDaily. Accessed . <https://www.archdaily.com/517980/elwood-house-robert-nichol-and-sons> ISSN 0719-8884

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