Haines House: A Raked Ceiling Ticks All The Right Boxes

Haines House by Christopher Polly Architects

Architect: Christopher Polly Architects Photographs: Brett Boardman article Size: 115 m2 Location: Newtown, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia Tags: Urban Homes, Renovations

Effortless Extension

There's a lot to balance and consider when planning a contemporary addition to the rear of an existing home: Integrating the old and new parts of the home so they flow seamlessly, maximizing sunlight to 'right the wrongs' of the original home and neighbors (and local government) will undoubtably have concerns about privacy and overshadowing.

A good extension seems to effortlessly address each of these considerations. In the case of Haines House, one simple gesture -- a new raked roofline -- addresses each of these concerns.

It doesn't get much more effortless than that!

View from the rear of Haines House shows the large highlight window over the living area created by the new raked roofline
Section of Haines House shows the new raked ceiling which uses the neighboring building to establish the height and pitch

Ticking All The Boxes

Christopher Polly Architects took the roof pitch, height and extent of a neighboring extension as the starting point for their new roof. The slope of that existing roof is extended to sail over the top of the new extension. This solves the issue of overshadowing their southern neighbor -- neighbors #1 (and town planning) are happy.

New living area of Haines House receives a lot of natural light from clerestory windows

Clerestory Windows

The new lofting roof rises towards the North-East. Thanks to the inclusion of clerestory windows another issue is solved. Beautiful natural light pours into the home all morning, a remarkable improvement on the old house which was poorly oriented -- the clients (and their heating bill) are happy.

The lounge area at Haines House has some clerestory windows which are louvres and some frosted to help with ventilation and privacy
The lounge area at Haines House has some clerestory windows which are louvres and some frosted to help with ventilation and privacy

Not Forgetting Ventilation and Privacy

The clerestory windows extend from the living area at the rear of the house into a more formal lounge area. They include both fixed and louvre windows to improve ventilation, while some windows are frosted to avoid privacy concerns from an adjacent multi-story apartment block.

Section of the Haines House shows the connection between old and new and the ceiling level of the existing house lines up with the wall height of the bathroom and work spine

Creating Flow Between Old and New

The ceiling height of the original home is used to establish the height of the central bathroom walls and a 'work spine' which runs along the eastern boundary. As well as providing space for storage, the kitchen and an outside toilet, the work spine also blocks views from the apartment block, maintaining privacy for the clients. Using the height of ceilings in the existing home to determine the bathroom and the work spine creates an unconscious connection and flow between old and new -- the clients are happy (again).

Haines House has a late sliding door that disappears into a pocket in the work spine to completely open the living area to the garden

Opening to the Outdoors

The sliding glass door completely disappears into a pocket created by the work spine, completely opening the living area to the garden.

A long corridor runs past the bedroom in the existing part of the home, leading to the new living areas

Pressure and Release Planning

Planning wise, the house is divided into three parts. The transition between zones is defined by pressure and release, a good technique to create an interesting sense of space:

  • The existing part of the house contains bedrooms and a study. A long corridor leads past this dormitory area to the living areas of the home.
  • Where the long entry corridor opens into a lounge area under the new raking ceiling.
  • Past the lounge area, you move through another small corridor past the original bathroom on the right and storage in the work spine on the left
  • Down several steps the open plan living area opens up which connects directly onto garden.
The main living area of Haines House is open plan with a concrete floor for passive solar heating
A new toilet is incorporated in the work spine once it extends outside
Plan of the Haines House shows the bedrooms at the front, a lounge area, bathroom, then open plan living area opening onto the garden

Making It Look Simple

Haines House makes the integration of old and new (and ticking all those other boxes) look simple. It goes to show that good planning can really make or break a project. In an attempt to satisfy all competing interests, this extension could easily have ended up disjointed -- an obvious add on. Instead, one clever design decision connected the whole project and created a superior living environment. Kudos to Christopher Polly Architects for making it look so easy!

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