Coolgardie Safe for Living
If you don't know what a Coolgardie Safe is, it's a low-tech refrigeration unit that uses the evaporation of water to cool the contents.
What does that have to do with a house?
Well this house uses the same principles to cool the whole house -- making it the most livable Coolgardie Safe in Australia (probably the world)! Appropriately, the house is close (by Australian standards) to the small mining town of Coolgardie where the safe was invented.**
But more than just an oversized cooling system, Casa 31_4 Room House is four distinct styles of space that uses the layering of history to transition a traditional Queen Anne/Federation-style house into a deeply meaningful modern home.
Water can trickle down the shade-cloth skin of the home. As breezes and the heat evaporate the water, the internal space is cooled. This house is officially the most livable (and stylish) Coolgardie Safe in Australia!
Nothing to See Here
But from the front of the house you'd have no idea about the clever innovation that's going on behind the scenes.
The sizable rear extension was purposely designed to be hidden from the front, maintaining the historical street frontage. The only hint of a modern renovation are the carefully placed barge scrolls (from the existing roof) on the front fence.
Layers of History
All spaces, new and old, contain elements of the past. The architects/owners used scraping, layering, and peeling to create interiors that didn't cover or hide the history of the home, but expressed the layers of history.
Exploring the Past
"What existed, years of layering, the art of construction, knowing what to keep, what to reveal and what to remove, knowledge gained from 13 years indulging in the past. Rooms become the embodiment of a city, a microcosm of the qualities that make a great city."
The existing part of the house maintains its historical character: Dark timber details, ornate ceiling moldings and picture rails. Various eras the house has witnessed are represented in details like the light fittings and painted wall patterns. In this house the walls can talk -- and they're talking about the passage of time.
The second style of space the architects explore is the connection between room and garden. Heavier and connected to the earth, the kitchen and multipurpose area both open seamlessly to the outdoors. The kitchen becomes more an extension of the garden than a room of its own.
Connection to the Sky
The third style of space explores a connection to the sky. The pitched roof of the multipurpose area opens to a skylight at the top. A cross of light is created by combining polycarbonate roofing with regular corrugated iron. A halo of love poems surround the space -- a reference from the clients' wedding.
"A space of deep sensory delight, an architectural palette cleanser , transitions the ground and upper level, the eyes and nose are overpowered by the burnt and waxed plywood walls and the amber light cast by nan’s 1950′s sliding door."
Rooftop Nook with Views of the Horizon
The fourth and final space uses its height to take advantage of views over suburban rooftops to the horizon.
This upper level is tucked into the nook of the old roofline. The floor slopes up to match the old roofline and creates a one-point perspective effect to hone your attention to the horizon line. This upper level wraps around you -- a warm cocoon of plywood.
The existing chimney remains in the space and is repurposed into a down-pipe to collect rainwater for reuse.
Materials previously hidden as structural elements of the house have been reused to create this deck area (as well as furniture about the home).
Every room in this house has a surprising story to tell. Elements of the past have been cleverly retained and reinterpreted to create a house that is at once modern and grounded in its history.
Casa 31_4 Room House is uniquely designed to reflect its own stories and amplify those of its current occupants.
This is how historical houses should be remodeled -- with a respect for the past and a vision for the future.