Midcentury Fusion: Balancing Retro and Contemporary in Home Design

Text via Sandbox Studio

Tucked into its residential surrounds, Gathering House needed to retain its roots as a warm and inviting family home, while also sculpting a new personal expression. 

Remaining congenial and approachable were core directives throughout, continuing a similar textural approach to finishes and materiality between old and new, and overlaying a sense of cohesion in the process. 

Although the addition sits in behind the original, from the front its presence isn’t felt, yet along the side and once inside, an emphasised overall increased scale becomes apparent. 

Taking formation within a pair of gabled roof peaks to the rear, the same angle as the original roof sits replicated with heightened refinement and precision. 

Defined by its crisp and newly cloaked outer layer, the dark addition deliberately sits in contrast to the existing. While the original raw brick home is a common site in the Australian residential landscape, proposing ways to integrate these typologies within a more contemporary capture of how homes are occupied, was key.

Marking a distinction of change, the new dark metal form sits apart from the old yet respectfully aligned in terms of overall scale and volume. Wanting to better activate the site at large and create more meaningful connections between inside and out, the focus turns to the landscape and the addition being the conduit between the old and new.

Responding to context, both within the site itself and to the surrounding neighbourhood at large, remained an important driver of the new works. Wanting to ensure a relevant connection to the existing scale and style of homes already in place, the deliberate materiality and overall form was approached with restraint. 

The shared living, dining and kitchen zone to the rear reflects a more open living environment, with increased openings and glazing to bring more natural light into the home. Through enhancing an openness between the threshold of inside and out, the interior becomes more grounded in place, allowing the home to respond climatically. 

On its corner allotment, Gathering House acknowledges its presence, taking a balanced approach between old and new. While the transition is marked by a finish and tonal change, a continuation of form prevails. While contained, the interior feels markedly more open, both internally through an enhanced scale, and leading outward. 

Sitting as its own shadow of sorts behind the original, the dark addition is intentionally recessive, yet reflective of contemporary life. The boldness of the new is countered by the warm texture of the original.

Photos by Katherine Lu