Text from Andrew Bruges Architects Located in a predominately Federation and California Bungalow neighbourhood on the north shore, our brief for the house was to rework a badly planned existing dwelling, and previous alterations, to create a functional house for a family of six with improved natural light and greater connection to the garden.
After initially exploring a two – level option at the client’s request, we encouraged a compact single level proposal with improved planning and a spacious cross section as the best solution within the project’s tight budget. The conceptual framework was developed around improving the quality and character of natural light , forming a defining element in the new addition.
Five skylights, two existing and three new, have been incorporated to shape a distinct cross section that allows natural light and a connection to the sky from within the deep internalized footprint of the existing house, while shaping a generous and spacious cross section in the new addition.
Working in tandem with the more generous cross section of the new addition, the internal planning has been modified to create a more compact floor plan for the whole house.
A carefully inserted central core containing a new bathroom and laundry has reframed the existing internal plan to reduce excessive corridors and create a more direct connection between the existing entry and living rooms, and the new addition. The new internal walls of the addition have been designed as thickened storage walls, moderating the need for more space by providing ample room for storage for the large family.
The skylights and shaped section have also determined the material character of the house. The section creates a play between an abstract, white, sculptured ceiling line and bulkhead datum, which washes light on the more robust natural finishes used below the datum. The major structural walls are recycled face brick re-used from the demolished external laundry and bathroom.
All joinery below the ceiling line datum is American oak, while the floor is concrete with underfloor heating. Internally this creates a clear palette of abstract lightness above, while all materials within touching distance of the occupants are robust, easily maintained natural materials.
Externally, the roof edge and brick edge of the side walls are cut to a thin dimension of 50mm, giving a lightness to the bounding frame of the rear façade. Within this outline, timber walls and windows are integrated to be a common material finish that creates the perception of a separate building element within this long rear façade.
Sliding screens allow variability to the façade according to sun control and privacy needs. The roof form, while housing a complex interior section, creates a simple and modest outline for the rear addition that sits comfortably with the Federation and Californian Bungalow neighbouring dwellings.
Significant improvements in social amenity and environmental performance of an existing 1940’s building were made while also making a series of material choices to limit waste. Key initiatives include: a generous cross section that significantly improves privacy and natural light, reducing the need for use of lighting during daylight hours ; the use of brickwork recycled on site in combination with recycled bricks from the brick pit; the use of hydronic underfloor heating as the principal source of heating in the project; and utilising cross ventilation, eaves and operable screen systems as a substitute to artificial cooling, all reducing the energy usage of the house.