Located in the small regional town of Trentham, Victoria, Australia, the existing 1890’s weatherboard home originally comprised of small windows, dark living areas, and rear lean-to structures (laundry/bathroom) which blocked the home from direct natural light and the surrounding garden.
The concrete and masonry extension/addition of the Trentham Brick House was designed to contrast the construction type and aesthetic of the weatherboard home, whilst also maximising natural light to the proposed living and alfresco areas. The pavilion style addition was designed as a series of solid and glazed vertical planes sandwiched between horizontal floor and roof planes, with spaces oriented towards the garden, and away from neighbours.
Adam Kane Architects believed it was important for the materiality of the extension’s façade to create a sense of permanence and solidity, and that the use of a neutral colour palette would enhance the visual impact of the surrounding European garden, and not compete with the existing pale blue finish of the weatherboard home.
Custom-made concrete bricks (400x40mm) of both longer and thinner proportions than traditional brick sizing were created for the project, as it was believed this would emphasise an elongated elegance. It is believed these slender proportions also contributed to the horizontality of the extension’s modern architecture, whilst referencing the adjoining weatherboards of the existing period home. The bricks, laid in a random set-out, were washed with a slurry of white mortar to soften their appearance.
The building form responses to the Trentham climate, which ranges from the heat of summer, to the often wet and at times snowing winter. Whilst the floorplan was arranged for both indoor and outdoor living to face the direct sunlight and feel connected with the garden, sun-studies were undertaken to maximise the effectiveness of the building’s proposed soffit. Whilst the undercover area facilitates near year-round outdoor entertaining, passive solar gain was utilised to maximise direct natural light penetration into the living room, heating the thermal mass of the concrete floor. Conversely in summer, the canopy blocks the sun throughout the heat of summer.
Internally the materials palette was kept to a minimum to not compete with the garden outlook, and to act as a stark contrast between old and new. The concrete floor, whilst durable and subdued, provides much needed thermal mass, and reinforces this delineation, ensuring it is as evident as seen in the building’s façade. The architect believed it was important to locate this transition of old/new down the building’s spine to create a line of sight from the existing front door to the rear garden. In-situ concrete steps enhanced the addition’s aesthetic, whilst a custom steel handrail was fabricated as a softer sculptural element.