The project site sits on the corner of two quiet suburban streets in the beach-side suburb of South Fremantle. The area is characterised by single storey weatherboard workers’ cottages of the late 19th Century. Many have been restored, typically brought back to their original footprint of 2 rooms and a corridor, lean-to accretions of subsequent decades removed to make way for a new extension, which is a summary also of our project.
The notable point of difference in our case is the corner site, which meant that the rear extension became front façade and public interface.
Our clients’ brief was very open. Beyond programmatic requirements and a desire to connect with their surroundings, the only other stipulation was that the rear extension replicate the basic form of the retained cottage; basically a weatherboard shack with a gabled roof.
The project therefore developed into a series of distinct elements, outlined as follows: 1.Existing cottage. 2.New cottage (double storey) 3.Link (single storey) 4.Courtyards
EXISTING COTTAGE The two-room cottage was restored structurally and also received new exterior cladding and roofing. Internal finishes were retained as far as possible (floors and some wall lining). Windows were partially replaced to match. Lean-to additions were removed. Sun shades / privacy screens were retro-fitted to side elevations.
NEW COTTAGE As the primary element, it contains main living spaces at first floor level, master bedroom and garage below. Conceptually, our approach was to deliver a contemporary re-interpretation of the gable-roofed, weatherboard cottage. A fundamental deficiency of the original cottage was its lack of sun shading to side elevations. Instead of attaching elements to the new cottage, we chose to thicken perimeter walls to create in-built window reveals for sun protection and space for integrated storage. This allowed us to maintain the archetypal form of the building whilst managing to incorporate sound passive design principles. Connection to surroundings is offered via curated views in various directions including upwards through a roof window, framing the Norfolk Pine tree just outside. A combination of window openings, ‘Juliet’ balconies, and a large terrace at the western end are the instruments of engagement with context, while vertical batten screens and hinged shutters allow the owners to fine-tune this interface.
Our clients asked for a strong connection to their surroundings. However, they also wanted the ability to shut down in the event of wild weather or the occasional desire to close off to the world -- a friendly engagement with the street, without compromise to privacy or comfort.
LINK Connecting the existing and new cottages is a single storey link structure, flat-roofed and colour-differentiated. Flanking an East-West corridor, it accommodates a bathroom, laundry and an additional bedroom. On account of its position on the site, the structure creates a series of courtyards to provide cross ventilation and daylight to ground floor rooms.
The link is visible from Parmelia Street, alongside the existing cottage, as a new entrance point. At its other end, as viewed from the side street, the structure peeks out from under the skirt of the upper floor cottage addition, to provide access to a side “breezeway” entrance and the garage.
The link structure is clad in black-painted fibre cement board, in contrast to the white weatherboards of both new and existing cottage elements.
COURTYARDS Curated left-over space, these courtyards allow the building to breathe and admit natural light to all spaces.
Each courtyard services at most two rooms, meaning they are rather private.
CLIENT STATEMENT Taken from an email sent to us by our client, listing the things they appreciate about the house: vast expanse of sky from north side of upstairs balcony, stars and moon... the floor lights on the upstairs balcony the stair lights, even with everything turned off upstairs there is a gorgeous light in the area from the stair lights the light over the outdoor shower the view through to the courtyard plants from the long window at foot of stair view from drinks fridge area looking through batons down into staircase when lights are on amazing kitchen lighting the cross breezes available in all directions due to the windows and doors fantastic light everywhere, especially now in the old cottage all the floors downstairs: the cottage, the oak in the new area and the bathrooms the lime washed white plywood floors are looking great outside lights and timers for entry in the dark the cupboard handles are fantastic, neat, interesting and don’t show finger marks those fabulous shutters in those winter ocean colours, and they work well too the look of the house when we walk back to it in the dark with some lights on- it is stunning the view from sitting in bed with a coffee through the batons and into the light staircase area, interesting rather than a blank wall great natural light in all the rooms but especially our room and Katie’s room which I didn’t expect the feel of the sliding doors, nice and solid the negative detail on the eastern roof line as the sun rises the shadows of the batons that show on the eastern wall of the cottage as the sun rises privacy in our bedroom from the batons on the south of the south courtyard view from the kitchen is wonderful, the corner window a highlight the amount of wood in the house, feels so good the porcelain benchtop and surrounds the spaces to put treasures and the soft colours behind the spaces as well as all their different shapes and depths the storage spaces, I am just so delighted the huge long northern window upstairs the huge and useful garage the breezeway and how it works for drying washing as well as connecting the garage to the house and being secure the courtyard, I call it the utility courtyard, don’t know if you did, but it is a nice space and looks quirky now the laundry skylight and the lighting, nice to work in, great storage and useful flat area for folding washing long straight corridor and the glass window to see if anyone is there the amount of outdoor space both garden and courtyards view from my desk in cottage second room towards the east over the south courtyard and up to the coloured shutters, a happy view the entire restoration/rebuild of the original cottage