In the 1950s as Australia continued to recover from the war, suburbs on the outskirts of our cities experienced a building boom. Struggling to keep up with this growth, the building industry dealt with labour and material shortages meaning the swathes of new homes built had to be economical and efficient. Bedford, 7 kilometres from Perth was one of these fledgeling suburbs where tracts of humble, repeated plan houses were built to meet demand. Now, Bedford is experiencing a renaissance thanks to its location just 15 minutes from the city, improved public transport and Perth's urban growth. The architect owners from Gresley Abas Architects and Justine Monk Design recognised Bedford's potential and decided to subdivide and extend to capitalise on their investment, while also creating space for their growing family...
Continuing in the 1950s spirit of economy, the architects designed a light-weight, flat-roofed structure which simply slides under the eaves of the original house. Bonus points for leaving the original roof untouched! This new space contains an open-plan living space, laundry and bathroom.
The box-like structure appears to float above a solid brick plinth and was manipulated to let in light and breezes while ensuring privacy from neighbours. While the internal spaces are modest, they borrow space and light from outside. "Sections were subtracted and walls cranked to admit staged views and light or make the opening of the main space seamlessly from inside to out", explain the architects.
The architects connect old and new by exploring new materials in the addition. You sense the change as you step down into a warm, plywood room, with a sliver of light marking the transition. Plywood tiered stairs, seating and cabinets skirt the edge of the new space, creating a functional edge to the room.
Facing north-east, the addition is full of natural light. A burnished concrete floor moderates the home's temperature, absorbing the sun's warmth in winter. Full-width blinds control the sun while louvres and a large sliding door maximise ventilation during those hot Perth summers.
Timber salvaged from the original lean-to is incorporated as fences, the deck and external storage.
"Ultimately, all design choices needed to contribute to the architects desire to create a sense of ‘home’. Space that was generous, comfortable and adaptable to a growing family was the essential brief, supported by care for the heritage and environment of a modest house in a changing suburban landscape." - Gresley Abas Architects and Justine Monk Design
The humble post-war houses of the 1950s are strikingly different from the enormous homes we're currently building on the perimeter of our cities. With a nod to this era, doesn't this considered, restrained addition makes you question how much you really need?