Despite a brief to extend an existing 1850’s homestead, it became apparent that the new extension should be detached. Rather than a reinterpretation of a past architecture, the result became a celebration of both old and new.
The two freestanding structures also continue a typical farm typology, where distributed structures, such as barn, out-house and woolshed, are connected by the outdoors and exposure to the elements. Obscured by a dilapidated 1920’s lean-to, the 1850’s cottage was revealed and meticulously restored, later housing guest bedrooms and a library.
Beyond the initial gesture to detach the two buildings, the three driving design tools that informed the new housewere site features, climate and client. The clients, describing themselves as great entertainers, sought shared spaces where people could gather en masse, but equally importantly desired private places to escape to and repose in the late afternoon.
The solution was to weave the new building through the site, twisting and turning where necessary, to create a variety of different internal and external environments. It is a modestly sized addition at 230 square metres, however the design provides a total of four bedrooms, two living spaces, three bathrooms, kitchen and dining, while outside four new types of outdoor space were added to the existing two.
Extending a 150 year-old Cypress hedge, the gesture became a shield from the prevailing southern weather allowing a protected northern lawn with views down to the valley. The ‘L’ shaped plan of the homestead was referenced to generate a form that, while not simply mirroring the existing building, does suggest a rotational symmetry.
A secluded courtyard between the two buildings is another type of created space, shaded by the homestead and ideal for the hotter months of the year.
The clients expressed a desire for large expanses of glass; hence the living spaces are housed in a double glazed box veiled by a folded roof carefully manipulated by sun angles.
The results of the undulating roof are spaces that soar above the valley at one end while plunging into the ground at the other. The interior of the project is characterised by the contrast of these spaces, and the materials in which they are finished, which at times are seemingly at odds with the restrained material palette of the exterior.
Internal materials and finishes, such as pressed metal, concrete block work encrusted with resin and recycled antique advertising signs are, although somewhat ornate, used in a natural and unglorified state.
Avoiding a sterile environment of glass and concrete, the rawness of these materials offer a warm, playful interior executed with minimal detail and fuss.
Sustainable practice is inherent within the project. The contractor and all his trades were from the immediate vicinity, double glazing combined with a concrete slab and correct eave orientation ensure manageable heating and cooling, water is harvested from the roofs of both buildings and there is a waste management system to handle grey and black water.