In this Best of est feature, we explore case study homes that bring a contemporary design perspective to original structures.
Four Australian architects and designers each pursue an existing home’s renewed potential through adaptive reuse and mindful reinvention.
A Subtle Statement by Tribe Studio
Tribe Studio reshaped the identity of a single-storey 1940s Sydney home for a family of four into a far from ordinary suburban home. The Tribe Studio team focused on a courtyard-style addition to frame the garden so that the living spaces can spill from indoors to out.
An antidote to poorly sewn box-like additions, Tribe Studio principal Hannah Tribe says they took the best parts from the existing home’s strong bones and put them in a modern context. “The clients were keen to preserve the character of the building while enlarging it, but not keen to simply graft a modern extension out the back,” Hannah says.
This was a subtle undertaking, so from the street, the new addition is part of the layered gable terracotta-tile roof lines. The stepped roofline becomes faceted ceiling layers inside, highlighted by the kitchen and dining space void. Subtlety strikes again in the extension’s honest material palette, where recycled tuck-pointed bricks and walnut joinery call on the honest interwar palette.
Gold Standard by Studio Bright
Without a heritage overlay, this post-war clinker brick home could have been demolished to start anew. But Studio Bright director Melissa Bright says well-loved homes are likely to have longevity to them, so took to lovingly restoring this family home.
A new black brick volume easily attaches itself to the existing clinker brick home, with a protected curved outdoor terrace adjacent to the internal living spaces. One of the central elements to the project was the concrete roof with ‘Scarpa-esque’ openings, where plants tumble through the voids.“The shadow plays of roof voids reach deep into the interior, where the path towards the most secluded depths is punctuated by the altar-like island bench, which appears glowingly sheathed in precious metal,” Melissa says.
The metallic gold and concrete custom kitchen island bench backs onto the original clinker brick wall, an electrifying focal point on a bed of concrete floors and black cabinetry. The deliberately dark new addition is a dramatic chapter in the home’s history, promising a bright future through passive design intervention.
Pitch Perfect by studiofour
studiofour approached a heritage-listed Art Deco home in Melbourne with a readiness to not only improve its functionality but create an immediate link with the landscape. Devising a two-storey addition with a residential scale amphitheatre, the team concentrated on a fluid connection between the new and the old, inside and out.
studiofour co-director Sarah Henry says the value of this renovation lies in their ability to repurpose an existing home and sustainably conserve its built fabric. “The design response is an addition that is minimal in materiality and detailing, emphasising the backdrop provided by the gardens beyond,” she says.
Double-height interiors with a pervading sense of repose bask in the light and fresh air. Off the communal living area, the outdoor space unfolds under the pitched form to create space for integrated seating and dining in the warmer months beside the pool. Sarah says that while the heritage home’s legacy was retained, its purity and intent were strengthened through an addition that hits all the right notes.
Solid Geometry by Smart Design Studio
Smart Design Studio encouraged a Federation house in Clovelly, Sydney to turn over a new leaf without upsetting its neighbours. The studio found a middle ground by going up, undoing a poorly-planned addition and replacing it with a white geometric silhouette of the existing home, fit for its ocean outlook.
Smart Design Studio founder and creative director William Smart says sustainability and durability were a driving force in the cohesive redesign. Their approach was simple: use honest materials made for the harsh seaside location and retain parts of the original home where possible. “The extension’s interiors are minimal and white, but they work with elements of the original building that have been retained,” William says.
Working to the challenges of southern orientation has made way for a sunlit, airy kitchen and dining room with a deck overlooking the lower garden and beach; topped by a bedroom and ensuite above that also share unobstructed views.
This piece originally appeared in est Magazine Issue #38.