Corner Top Corner
L_side

Case studies

The good house redefined
R_side
divider divider divider
L_side

An alliance of old and new forms


BACKGROUND INFORMATION
point
The home, a Californian bungalow, is located at a corner street on a flat block of land in a heritage area of the Northern suburbs. In spite of its poor condition, the front of the home has retained some design integrity while the back presents an unappealing mish-mash of lean-to structures. The owners wish for more functional floor plan with a sunny and open plan living space.

KEY FACTS
point Service provided   Design, permits, interior design and contract administration – construction in progress.
point Project type   Renovation
point Home location   City of Darebin
point Date of original construction   1910s
point Land size   444sqm
point Existing floor area   153sqm (17 squares)
point Proposed floor area   176sqm (20 squares)
point Budget   $170,000

SITE NOTES
point
The home is located close to the north fence and features only one window on this side, into the living room. Electric lighting is required is most rooms most of the time.
point
The lightweight home is cold in winter as it has no thermal mass and receives no solar gains, due to the lack of windows on the North side.
The layout is dysfunctional, with the bathroom opening onto the kitchen, a convoluted access to the garden, and a windowless store room, originally a bedroom the window of which got blocked off by the enclosure of the back verandah (now dining). Many rooms can only be accessed by going through other rooms.
point
The add-ons in the backyard have formed a corridor-like piece of land in the middle which is too narrow for most purposes. The garden is not used often as it seems so remote from the living areas.

THE NEW DESIGN
point
The first step: is to remove the low-ceiling lean-tos at the back which are poorly constructed and detract from the integrity of the period home.
point

Orientation: As the owners need three bedrooms and a study, it is decided to extend out with a simple rectangle facing North to accommodate the living areas into an open plan space. The new space is set as close as possible to the South boundary in order to maximize the garden size on the North side and allow for a new deck. The extension is build on a concrete slab which also acts as thermal mass, absorbing the warmth of the low winter sun and releasing it at night.

point

Functionality and aesthetics: the interior circulation is simplified by extending the central corridor into the new space, leaving rooms to be accessed from either side. The soft curved roof has a contemporary appeal which was accepted by Council in spite of the heritage overlay, as its shape or volume was not going to dominate the street. The old roof and the new roof are separated by a section of flat roof over the new laundry, which allows a happy co-existence of the two roof forms.

point

Light and view: The curved cathedral ceiling has its low end on the South side, allowing for tall windows to be installed on the North end to make the most of available sun and view. The kitchen and dining area can be widely and readily opened to the deck thanks to two sets of triple stackers (two doors sliding onto a fixed third one), creating a clear opening four metre wide.

point

Heating: The only form of heating was an electrical heater in the living room. A simple energy-efficient gas log heater installed at one end of the extension is enough to heat the passive solar living area, while the sleeping areas will be equipped in the future with either hydronic panels or a gas heater in the corridor depending on perceived need and available budget.

point

Insulation: A R.4.5 combination of fibre-free insulation and reflective membrane is installed in the cathedral ceiling and retrofitted to the roof space of the old home. All new windows and glazed doors are fitted with double-glazing units. New walls are insulated to R2.5. The extension can be separated from the old part of the home with a large sliding door in order to create an airlock between the passive solar space and the rest of the home should the need arise.

point

Ventilation and shading: The shallow floor plan of the extension creates opportunities for summer cross-ventilation by aligning South and North-facing windows to let cool breezes in and out. The highlight windows set above the large sliding doors can also be opened to flush the hot air that accumulates near the ceiling, creating a cooling breeze in the home (Venturi effect). A pergola is designed between the sliding doors and the highlight windows, to be covered with a sail or vine in summer.

point

Conservation: Plantation pine and recycled or salvaged timbers are used for framing, fixing and benchtops. The floor slab was poured using Green Concrete which uses recycled aggregate and replaces some of the polluting cement with fly ash, an inert industrial by-product. Most existing doors, the bathtub and basin have been kept and rejuvenated, while many of the lights and other fittings have been found in second-hand shops.

point

Indoor air quality: The concrete floor is sealed with natural oil, as well as all interior and exterior timbers. Natural glues, paints and products with low VOC (Volatile Organic Compounds) are used extensively throughout the home. The new kitchen and laundry cabinetry is made using E0 particleboard, or Emission zero, the lowest formaldehyde emitting particleboard available.

point

Water: The home is now equipped with two interconnected rainwater tanks, with a total of 4,000L of water to be used in the garden, in the toilets and laundry. Taps and shower heads are selected for minimal water consumption (WELS 5 star rating).

… back to case studies »

R_side
Corner Top Corner