The brief for House Howley was to provide generous accommodation for a family with 3 young children, while respecting the character of the existing finely detailed Californian Bungalow on the site.

Project Name: House Howley
Studio Name: Mark Szczerbicki Design Studio
Location: Sydney, Australia
Photography: Tom Ferguson

©Tom Ferguson

The concept for the design was to create a series of spatial transitions, informed by the volume of the existing gabled roof, to morph the building from a traditional street façade at the front, through to a contemporary open-plan living volume at the back. The key planning move was to introduce a central courtyard, which at once allows norther sun into the new living area, and acts as a pivot point between the existing and new parts of the house, and vertically between the ground and first floor. Slight geometric shifts in the courtyard volume allow space for a feature maple tree and add spatial drama to the daily ritual of using the stair.

©Tom Ferguson

The new work is hidden from view from the street, while the north-facing front garden is celebrated through new native planting and a sandstone seat under the existing Magnolia tree. The retained portion of the existing house has been carefully restored, and maintains a traditional character of cosy separate rooms. The plan opens up at the back, with a new kitchen enjoying a commanding central position to survey the existing and new portions of the house and keep an eye on the children. The large glass doors enclosing new living spaces can all be fully open to provide a seamless connection with the garden and the new swimming pool and alfresco area.

©Tom Ferguson

The design maximises energy efficiency without making it an obvious feature. The ground floor extension, constructed in brickwork recycled from demolishing parts of the existing house, uses natural ventilation for cooling. The thermal mass of the polished concrete slab along with a centrally located double-sided fireplace contribute to heating. The lightweight first floor has double the required insulation, ceiling fans for cooling, and a combination of retractable external venetians and screens for shading. A solar panel array on the roof and 6000L rainwater tank contribute to the efficiency measures.

©Tom Ferguson

The design allows for a variety of both private spaces to get away and gathering spaces where the family comes together. The material palette is robust, with a combination of existing hardwood floors, concrete flooring, brick walls, painted cedar and granite paving. The first floor is more pared back, while allowing a generous scale to the bedrooms and bathrooms including a large walk-in wardrobe. The landscape and lighting are integral to the design, providing a rich backdrop to the clean and simple interiors. House Howley maximises the opportunities of approval through the Complying Development process, while future-proofing the house the house for the next generation.

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