The Dearie House is a family home originally designed by Kevin Knight for Ronald & Patricia Dearie in 1953. It has remained in its original form for more than six decades and, as one of the original houses in the local beach-side suburb of Beaumaris, is an excellent example of a Modernist style home from that period.

Project Name: Beaumaris Re-Modern
Studio Name: OMG Architects
Location:
Beaumaris, Australia
Photography: Adam Gibson

©Adam Gibson

Our clients purchased the property from the Dearie family in 2014 and were passionate about preserving the architectural integrity of the original house, as well as its surrounding mature trees. Key to the success of the project was a shared commitment to celebrate the core character-defining elements of an original modernist style home. Our brief was to retain as many of the character-defining elements as possible, whilst incorporating an extension suitable for the contemporary needs of a modern family of two adults and three growing children.

We set about achieving this by retaining and renovating the original distinct black & white timber-clad facades, opening up & renovating the original living areas and maintaining the linear arrangement of original bedrooms and hallway. Expressed Oregon roof beams, and internal timber wall linings were restored or repurposed as was the entire original hardwood floor. We removed the dilapidated southern part of the house that had contained bathroom and laundry areas and replaced the original Dining / Kitchen area with a contemporary 3.5m high Living / Dining / Kitchen space that connects to the new pool and outdoor entertaining areas via large panes of openable glazing.

The new floor plate embraces the original plan, accentuating its central axis by framing an old stringybark tree at one end and a new swimming pool at the other. The rear of the old building, dilapidated by exposure to six decades of southerlies, has been replaced by two rugged timber-clad boxes. A verdant central courtyard oasis acts as a central lung and source of daylight within the building’s core.

©Adam Gibson

Restoration of the retained elements of the existing house was at times painstaking. Upgrading existing walls, floors and roofs to modern energy requirements provided insulation installation challenging. Asbestos was found in more products that suspected although this was removed diligently. Retention of the existing floor required ongoing protection and restoration throughout the build, a worthwhile exercise given its preservation provides a literal layer of history to in the final outcome.

The additions continue to explore universal modernist themes as relevant now as they were mid-last century. Truth to materials, simplicity and clarity of form, visual expression of structure and above all, the delight of natural daylight, shadow play and reflection. Internal spaces connect to the natural landscape at every opportunity. The new works are a jazz improvisation on the original, architecture of simplicity and delight, a tranquil refuge, an atmosphere that is intended to be timeless yet highly temporal.

The new arrangement was designed around a sense of refuge and tranquillity. All habitable rooms in the new arrangement benefit from daylight from at least two sources and strong visual connection to the garden. This enhances the sense of time passing, contributes to a healthy living environment and enriches the quality of experience.

©Adam Gibson

Natural daylight atmosphere temporal quality peacefulness calm. Glimpses or framed views to surrounding mature trees. The result is a high quality, well-proportioned architectural response that sits comfortably with its original cousin. Within the context of relatively restricted siting constraints, the house provides equal opportunity for social interaction as it does for privacy. It is at once a haven and a convivial celebration.

The well-orientated building captures direct sunlight throughout the entire day. All spaces along the southern side of the building have windows that open onto the vibrant central courtyard allowing control of cross-ventilation. This negates the requirement for mechanical air cooling and cleanses internal air quality.

This project provides an important contribution to the discussion about the future protection of mid-century modernist homes within Beaumaris. Like many similar modernist homes of the era, this house does not benefit from any statutory heritage protection and could quite easily have been lost to demolition as many similar buildings have in the past.

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