When dealing with heritage, the best approach can sometimes be to leave it alone. This 1880s bluestone terrace is a beautiful example of Williamstown's early architecture, but the owner, a landscape gardener, desired a modern living space with a good connection to the established backyard. Altereco Design's approach was to build a new, light-filled pavilion which connects gently to the historic bluestone...
"We took a very delicate approach to the preservation of the heritage - preserving and celebrating the Bluestone" - Claire Thomas, Altereco.
Just a small incision in the bluestone wall creates a portal between old and new. Smooth bluestone tiles reference the old home and herald the transition. Where the old bluestone is heavy and grey, the new living zone is light and, well, light. "Working with the deteriorating stonework was tricky. The rear terrace was made out of Bluestone rubble which was breaking off in bits and pieces", says Claire.
Inside the pavilion, a bay of north-facing, double-hung, sash windows lets light stream in over a built-in window-seat.
The windows are fixed directly onto solid timber posts, eliminating the need for any additional framework. The design of the windows provides excellent natural ventilation. The double-hung nature of the windows forces air circulation by releasing hot air from the upper opening and drawing fresh cool air through the lower opening. As Claire explains, "the property is close to the sea so we wanted to maximise the sea breeze". And, remarkably, the windows work so well there's no need for air-conditioning, proving clever design can keep you comfortable without air-conditioning.
Birch plywood interiors have a lighter appearance than other plywood varieties, while still giving the home a warm appearance. The warm plywood and Vic Ash flooring look particularly striking against the lush green backdrop, while laminate joinery in Parchment, adds another layer of subtle warmth to the pavilion.
One of the challenges was respecting the established garden during the build. The owner wanted to retain as much of the garden as possible, in particular, the green wall which the home now overlooks. The new pavilion celebrates the garden with expansive glazing. "We wanted to provide as much light as possible and an outlook to the established landscaping and green wall without making it simply a glass box".
In the bathroom, part of the original home, a coat of white brings unity to all surfaces, exaggerating the texture of the various materials rather than their colour.
A delicate approach to the heritage of the existing bluestone building affords distinction to the new pavilion. Leaving the original home largely intact preserves its heritage value while contrasting it to the lightness and warmth of the new. This is a great example of synergy, where both old and new are enhanced by the presence and essence of each other.