Henry Street House

Henry Street House

Cheah Saw Architecture
Project Year
Private Houses
Trevor Mein
Product Spec Sheet
RoleBrandsProducts Used
JoineryA&A Cabinets
CladdingAustral Plywood
Light FittingsMasson for Light
Timber FabricationTimberbuilt Solutions
Timber FinishWhittle Waxes

Henry Street House

Cheah Saw Architecture as Architects

In keeping with the unassuming character and intent of the original weatherboard cottage, this addition is modest in scale and budget.

The brief was to invert the existing enclosed, divided internal layout, and create generous spaces closely connected to the external environment, on a narrow built-up site.

The project begins with the heritage fabric. Cornices and roses of the existing ceilings serve as ornamentation and define rooms. This approach is appropriated for the extension, where the undulating ceiling form provides figuration and delineation to kitchen, dining and living areas, giving scale and suggesting edges to the spaces.

The tight budget on the project was embraced to drive a more thrifty and sustainable approach to energy and material resources. The architecture is distilled to its essentials - the portal structure is the expression, the structural plywood bracing is the internal lining, the same plywood is the joinery. The architectural fabric consists of the necessary elements required to structurally hold the building up – none of it is superfluous.

A dense block of joinery along the Southern wall of the house allows the living, dining and kitchen spaces to be minimised in scale and area, whilst still accommodating all the required program for living. This is the first stage in the renewal of this Victorian cottage for a young family, with the design future-proofed for an additional level, for when the family grows.

The structure, cladding and ceiling of the extension is a singular material – Hoop Pine – acting as a unifying texture. This renewable resource is used in the form of laminated timber sheets – one of the most efficient and therefore sustainable, responsible and economical ways to use timber. The result is a design expression that intrinsically links the sustainable, experiential and visual aspects of the project.

Structural elements are employed as the main expression of the building fabric. This created an opportunity to collaborate closely with the structural engineer and timber fabrication specialist.

No two beams are the same depth. The custom made LVL structure was achieved costeffectively and efficiently by engaging directly with the CNC fabrication process. The LVLs were custom cut from wide, full slabs. The resultant wastage which would normally be discarded was redistributed to create rafters of varying depths. The final form, developed parametrically to fully utilise each slab of LVL material, eliminated wastage.

A full-length skylight on the north edge of the space brings in abundant light, which is filtered and diffused by the exposed rafters, changing through the course of the day, and amplified by the varying depths of the structure.

The resultant space is warm and textured, with diffuse natural light and dynamic shadows that animate and give character to the space. The skylight doubles as an indoor hanging garden, with greenery draped above or hung below the structure. The experience of the house is of the tracks of sunlight and shadow moving across the space.

Project team
Building Surveyor
Structural Engineer
V&A Exhibition Road
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V&A Exhibition Road

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