The project involved the renovation and addition to an Arts and Crafts semi-detached house on an escarpment overlooking a beach. 

The client’s brief was simply, “design us a modern interpretation of a beach house”. To the client, this meant a house focused around sunny decks and verandas. 

Using this brief as a starting point we explored the idea of an ‘interstitial/veranda space, with the aim of departing from the predictable semi-detached house typology characterised by; ‘shotgun’ planning, introverted rooms, small side windows and flat ceilings. 

The existing sandstone basement and roughcast rendered bedroom level were restored and a new steel framed ‘superstructure’ housing the living rooms and ‘interstitial’ spaces was grafted above. The interstitial space incorporates stairways, verandas, courtyards and circulation paths. The form of the underside of the superstructure is generated by the continuous horizontal and vertical circuit linking the street entry to the rear yard below. Through the use of adjustable aluminium and glass louvres and sliding doors, the zone can undergo transformation. Together with different textural affects generated from the reflective qualities of different materials the boundaries of this zone are further destabilised. 

The result is a spatial richness and a variety of circulation paths not possible in a traditional semi-detached plan. 

The interstitial zone also functions as a passive cooling element. The zone provides cross ventilation to all rooms, permits sunlight into the centrally located kitchen and provides protected outdoor space to dwell in, sheltered away from the strong north-easterly summer winds. The overhand and the external louvres filter the western sun during summer. 

In this project we wer4e no interested in formulating an understandable coding for the old and new parts of the dwelling, however, we felt it was important to make the new work in some ways ‘familiar’. We did this by referencing the traditional materials and detailing of the original dwelling in an abstract repetitive way. For example, the rough case render of the exiting arts and crafts base is repeated in the new addition and painted in the same colour; and the traditional detailing of eaves is sed to clad the underside of the superstructure. In this way, the new work, whilst abstracted, becomes ‘familiar’. 

The ’Semi-detached House’ was recently part of an exhibition in San Francisco USA titled “Australian Architecture Now’ sponsored by the American Institute of Architects and the University of California Berkeley. The exhibition showcased contemporary Australian Architecture. 

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