Our project consists of alterations and additions to an existing 1890’s duplex cottage on Bellevue Terrace in Fremantle. The briefed starting point for our intervention was to improve the relationship between internal and external spaces that previously suffered on account of a 1.5m level variance and the inconvenient location of an existing bathroom.
Programmatic aspects of the brief comprised an outdoor dining room, a new bathroom and improved privacy to the southern neighbor. The existing kitchen was to remain.The property runs E-W, with laneway access along the northern boundary. Our design grew, almost by itself, from a meeting of site constraints, client brief and our interest in exploring an alternative to the full-width bi-fold door.
An alternative rooted in traditional notions of the bay window and more recently in the work of Owen and Vokes and Peters – that immediacy of the outdoors is not necessarily maximized by removing all barriers and thresholds, but perhaps heightened by emphasizing and allowing the occupant to linger on/occupy that threshold.
Our project therefore seeks to offer our clients varied opportunities for lingering in a state of nearness to the garden. As such we proposed 3 slivers of space that correspond to programmatic requirements, sequenced by environmental ones. They are: i) a new bathroom, ii) access to garden and, iii) an outdoor room.
1) For reasons of creating a privacy barrier to the neighbor and maximizing usable living space, the bathroom is placed as a narrow sliver along the southern boundary. It reaches out toward the garden with a bathtub at the bow offering the owners a place to bathe overlooking the garden, shuttered for privacy.
2) An access path to the garden occupies the next sliver, which begins as a narrow passage, widens to become a terrace with a built-in seat and ends with winding brick steps.
Each element is progressively lower, negotiating 1.5m in height from start to finish. Opportunities are provided along the path for lingering ever nearer the low-lying yard.3) The final sliver is an outdoor dining room that incorporates a sunken bay window closest to the garden and a built-in bench seat along one wall.
The room is wrapped in shutters and clear glazed panels to the north and west, with translucent sliding panels to the south. This envelope permits the clients to tailor their connection with the outdoors in response to weather or otherwise. Certain views are preserved even when all shutters are closed.
The sliding panels, when open, borrow space from the circulation sliver to create an alternate configuration for a dining table.The extension is clad in a vertically grooved masonite board that is distinct from the existing dwelling. Its form is a result of the three slivers and our pursuit for north light (also for the southern neighbor).
The form is activated by various shutter positions, allowing the outdoor room to ‘breathe’ and respond to different modes of operation. .