It's a paradox how much effort it takes to make something look effortless. That's a challenge architects deal with every day, how to combine the client's needs, statutory requirements and the site's constraints into a design that flows well and feels good, how to detail a sliding door so the transition from inside to outside is seamless, how to bring multiple materials together to create a neat junction, the list goes on. This was certainly a challenge at St Kilda Cottage House where Jost Architects had to maximise space on a tapering site leading to some ticky geometry...
The addition to a weatherboard cottage in a heritage area of St Kilda adds a main bedroom, ensuite, walk-in-robe and deck on the upper floor. On the ground floor, a new kitchen and living area while refurbishing the existing bathroom and retaining the existing two front bedrooms. The original footprint of the home wasn't extended to retain as much outdoor space as possible, but the sliver of land to the north-east where the block tapered needed to be utilised. That's where things got interesting...
"Because the site tapered, becoming narrower to the rear and the proposed building was to utilise this valuable unused space, it meant that none of the gutter line, roof ridge and internally, the ceiling and wall junctions were parallel to each other or horizontal", explains the architect, Patrick Jost. Design-wise, it was important that the home didn't appear to taper and that both facades looked symmetrical from the street. "A couple of the builder’s carpenters who set out the framing had minor existential crises", explains Patrick but, in the end, the addition looks perfectly perfect thanks to the combined efforts of architect and builder.
The addition is designed as a clearly contemporary counterpart to the original home but, equally, it complements the original. The new roofline echoes the pitch of the original home while weatherboards and galvanised iron are both used on the addition, helping to tie the new parts of the home to the original.
The planning of the living area was very important to make the space as functional as possible without expanding into the already compact backyard. A few clever, space-saving solutions help the maximise the space: The stair, a fireplace and storage space is located in the tapering boundary wall to maximise this space without impeding on the living areas, while a banquette seat is located in front of the kitchen bench and wraps around the side of the stair to free up space in the lounge and the laundry is located upstairs in the corridor between the stair and the main bedroom.
A screened deck offers privacy to the bedroom while also creating a protected outdoor space. A section of the screen opens for views over the rooftops or closes to protect the home from the heat of the afternoon sun.
Another deck to the east, tucked behind the existing roofline offers some more outdoor space. It's accessible through a door at the top of the stairs as well as through the robe and bathroom. This 'doughnut' plan minimises wasted space and maximises the amount of light and ventilation in the bedroom.
"The existing rooms were refurbished retaining their original features and trims with new contemporary fixtures and fittings that are aesthetically appropriate", explains Patrick, while other "interior finishes are selected to be honest to the raw textures and colours of the materials employed." This was important to the client who wanted an interior which won't date.
"Sustainable applications included long-lasting and durable materials such as decorative concrete with zoned hydronic heating, thermally-broken aluminium and narrow profile steel frame double glazed windows and sliding doors. The upper level overhangs the west-facing... lower living room which negated the requirement for air conditioning. The sensible application of good thermally passive design, energy-efficient lighting and fixtures coupled with a 2.6kW PV system provides for comfortable living at a low environmental and financial cost."
The effort required to make this home look and feel effortless has paid off. The addition nicely complements the heritage of the original home and creates a comfortable home for the owners with the limited space and challenges of a tapering block.
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