Builder: Belair Builders
Structural Engineering: Meyer Consulting
Landscape: Eckerleys Garden Architecture (EGa)
Furniture Styling: JCB
Text description provided by the architects. The project reflects a joyful take on the classic “box on the back” renovation. Its design embraces a nimble and sensitive response to a heritage context, while also meeting the specific needs of the client in creating a space that is a pleasure to live in. Transforming a previously dark and minimally ventilated house, the design breaks open the segregated floorplan (typical of this typology), to provide an engaging sequence of interlinked, yet not quite open-plan spaces, each with its own character to create a quiet haven - a suburban sanctuary.
An existing heritage building is transformed through the introduction of a modern, two-story addition that playfully reinterprets the distinctive geometry of the original dwelling through a contemporary lens. Capturing abundant natural light and garden aspects, the new addition employs a refined and subtle palette of brick, steel, and timber. Capitalizing on the site’s orientation and garden aspect, every component of the new addition is oriented to achieve maximum natural light and ventilation, while also enjoying a leafy garden aspect.
A conscious effort has been made to retain the key heritage features and structure of the existing dwelling by providing a clear separation to the modern extension. The two buildings are connected via a glazed link, screened by hit-miss brickwork and a courtyard that celebrates the existing architecture and cascades into the landscape, clearly separating the heritage building from the proposed contemporary extension.
The form responds to the hips and gables of the prevalent existing heritage buildings. A central focus is a sculptural staircase, which delivers its occupants from the ground floor to a landing study nook, set under a folding origami, timber-lined ceiling. The downstairs living spaces, while all being open plan, are delineated by a series of levels. These levels choreograph an engaging journey through the various components of the space (living, kitchen, dining, study), imagining each as its own individual space, yet linked through a palette of textured materials and clever sightlines that provide striking vistas, taking in the depth of the site and its multiple facets.
The design response takes the existing plan of compartmentalised spaces, particular to the heritage vernacular, and teases them apart to create spatial definition and articulation while optimising the capture of natural light and cross-flow ventilation. Yet it also moves beyond the singular open-plan kitchen living response, to create a multi-faceted, multi-spatial interior that allows for both connectivity and separateness.
It is a response that brings the outside in, recognizing the value of capturing garden views to enhance the internal experience, in turn, creating a sense of connection to the landscape, and nurturing a sense of calm engagement with one’s surrounds. The client was focused on value rather than cost, which allowed a flexible approach to decision making. The client saw considerable value in a robust external cladding material, which responded to the heritage context and value in a considered approach to external articulation of windows through external Venetians and blinds. The result was a dwelling with presence and purpose