Coogee House

Coogee House

Madeleine Blanchfield Architects
Sydney, Australia
Project Year
Private Houses
Prue Ruscoe

Coogee House

Madeleine Blanchfield Architects as Architects

This alts and adds project involved converting an existing 1920’s duplex apartment into a house. The internal planning was modified including all new bathrooms, kitchen and fit out. The existing street side facade was modified in keeping with the character of the existing building, the rear was completely opened to the garden and a new pavilion structure built to house dining and living areas. The contemporary and light filled new spaces make reference to the older existing ones in their materiality and proportions, but are distinctly contrasting. The result is a light filled new living area and character filled bedrooms and other rooms which highlight the qualities of the old and the new.


When was the project completed?



What are the sustainability features?

Sustainability is addressed by retaining an existing building rather than demolishing and re-building. Building fabric was retained wherever possible, repaired and in places re-used in other rooms or locations (flooring, doors and windows salvaged from other rooms were re-used). New work was limited to that required to make the building's adaptive re-use possible.


This retention and re-use of materials, their embodied energy and reduction in waste is the best possible contribution to sustainability. Other factors include low energy lighting, windows to all rooms to reduce the need for artificial lighting, sustainable timbers used in veneers.


There is a fresh water pool, good solar access and thermal mass, solar floor heat and cross ventilation and sun-shading.


 What was the brief?

The brief was to modernize an existing duplex, make the spaces work as one house for a young family and open up the existing rooms to the garden. The qualities of the existing house were to be maintained and the existing character appreciated but modern life accommodated.


The brief was met by shedding conservative notions of rooms and their relationships to each other. The existing fabric was largely preserved, but the kitchen and bathrooms were all relocated. A new and very contemporary room housing living and dining areas was inserted at the back of the house.


The outcome is a house with flow, open and airy living areas spilling onto the garden. It feels like an old house with integrity and a few clear contemporary insertions. The extent of the remodeling is understated. In doing a lot subtly and a few things boldly the result is a house of calm and comfortable contrast, with the experience of both the old and the new heightened.


 How is the project unique?

The project finds beauty in the juxtaposition of old and new. An Art-Deco era duplex apartment building was converted into a house for a young family. Strong, contemporary insertions were made in existing ornate spaces. As much of the existing fabric as possible was retained but rooms were re-purposed to suit modern life. The qualities of the old are accentuated by its contrast against the new light filled spaces with high level glazing and large, open spans.


The existing building’s character was amplified by contrasting it against the insertion’s strong, contemporary lines. Existing finishes such as Carara marble and oak were used in new rooms in contemporary ways to ensure cohesion.


An existing living room was converted to a kitchen, the oven placed in the original fireplace to maximize the appreciation of the old and the function of the new. Indoor and outdoor spaces were connected through new openings, but the delineation between old and new made clear and concise at all times.


An ensuite was installed in the existing sunroom. In all rooms, including bathrooms and the kitchen, ornate ceilings and details were retained. A new stair was carved through existing stacked apartment sized bathrooms. The raw brick we uncovered was retained. In places existing glass doors were replicated to maintain the integrity of the old rooms.

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