Submitted AIA Award Text
Originally part of the 1920’s Durrell’s Estate in Lilyfield, Sydney’s Inner West, the original freestanding brick workers cottage was purchased with a mere 3£ deposit. The house has since been victim to neglect and a series of questionable improvements over the course of its life. It had been stripped of its ornate detail and added to with an asbestos lean-too infill, enclosing and eroding the logic and simplicity of the original cottage’s plan.
The new work aspires to ‘undo’ a number of these questionable improvements, sensitively stitching into and celebrating the original heritage fabric. The relationship between old and new is acknowledged through a doorframe which seamlessly integrates both old and new. Original walls are smooth plaster with detail above the picture rail datum in the cornices and ceilings. The new references this but flips it. The walls have a subtle texture up to a datum and the smooth ‘hat’ above helps the spaces feel taller than they are. Traditional highlight window details have been retained in the old areas and adapted in the new by separating the door and window whilst simultaneously drawing light into adjoining spaces. In one instance, century old amber stained glass from an original window was damaged upon removal.
A material match was sourced from a local heritage supplier who luckily had some matching in his reserves. The house respects the original structure of the house through adopting its original simple loaded corridor plan. A number of carefully placed sight lines take advantage of views out to the garden and capture natural light. Transitions in new zones reflect the planning diagram but makes sure each threshold is deep and low so that transitioning between spaces is a substantial, conscious experience.
The house is small and at only 108m2 has cleverly accommodated 3 bedrooms, a bathroom, laundry, generous kitchen, living and dining area. The garden was fundamental to establishing a sense of generosity. The house takes advantage of the surrounding landscape through actively connecting with the garden and beyond. The interior spaces have a generosity and benefit through actively borrowing external views. The Garden becomes the central ‘room’ which all other spaces orient and organize around.
The loose brief was to fit an extra bedroom and re-orient the spaces to the garden in the most cost effective manner possible. This drove the decision to retain the original lean-too roof and many walls, Retaining these elements … It also dictated the original footprint remain as is helping the house gain approval quickly with CDC with the goal of finishing before the clients baby daughter arrived.
It also had minimal impact on the neighbouring heritage context. These cost restrictions drove the client to complete their own landscaping, external painting and rendering with the help of friends. The significant fabric retention helped reduce the environmental impact in combination with the deletion of all gas appliances and fittings, Photovoltaic & solar hot water system on the roof with future battery provision and prioritising local materials and craftspeople.
AIA Jury Citation
This project celebrates the existing form of the inner-city Federation bungalow with an alteration that chiefly retains and transforms the traditional nature and organisation of the house. With thoughtful detailing the alterations contain a playfulness that celebrates its occupants to provide an individual sense of home to an otherwise familiar building typology. The original hallway form is retained as an organisational spine for the traditional layout of bedrooms; bathroom and living areas are accommodated within a rear lean-to structure. With retention of the existing building form, the alterations are thoughtfully conceived to maximise the latent qualities of the house.
The minimal approach to the new interventions steps quietly to find a balance in renewing the home yet finding a place of belonging in history. Heritage light fittings, cathedral glass, tiles and joinery are transformed in their detailing to belong in a contemporary setting. The kitchen area is cleverly twisted to address the side boundary of the property providing an often ignored connection to garden along the side passageway. JJ House is exemplary as an approach for altering and establishing a sense of individuality in the recognisable housing stock of our suburbs.
We wanted a home to nurture the needs of our young family. Creating a sense of spaciousness, privacy and connection with nature and sky. It had to harmonise the classical lines and heritage of the cottage with the new contemporary spaces of the addition. An Important item was a flow connection between the kitchen and living spaces, that still allowed the kitchen functions to be discreet. The outstanding feel of being in the home is one of calm, surrounding glass doors and skylight inviting the outside in & the inside out. Arriving home from city bustle to our own little oasis.
JJ House has a positive impact on the environment achieved with a few key decisions during the early design phase. Partly driven by cost and time, but also avoiding the need to build unnecessarily large swathes of original fabric are retained reducing carbon impact. The original roof in its entirety is retained. Large portions of walls are retained and re-used. Paving is reused in a new way.
Local Materials are prioritised for both supporting local industry but also for longevity. Local trades and suppliers favoured where possible. All gas has been deleted from the project. A solar hot water system & Photo voltaic system is on the roof which produces energy for over 9 hours a day. This is wired for a future battery when budget allows. Significant insulation has been installed up to a rating of R5 in the roof to deal with temperature changes over the seasons.