Newtown House delicately preserves an emotional connection to an existing house, while enhancing the house’s connection to its site. Originally belonging to one of the client’s parents, nostalgia and fondness for the old house needed to be considered when bringing the house up to the standards and requirements of modern life. With a spectacular view over the Barwon River valley and Newtown parklands, we felt that the 1960s house needed to amplify its engagement with its surrounding landscape.
Project Name: Newtown House
Studio Name: Hindley & Co
Location: Geelong, Australia
Photography: Tatjana Plitt
Completion date: 2017
Retaining the mid-century essence of the house was at the crux of the design and we sought to pay homage to its charm and quirks with any new interventions. Formally a modest house with some interesting mid-century detailing, such as the windows, fireplace and inbuilt joinery, some of the spaces within the house were less desirable, such as the very small, dark and utilitarian rooms with small windows. We have both retained and drawn inspiration from the best aspects of the old house, and the new house is more generous, contemporary and comfortable.
The brief was to keep the original bedrooms at the front of the house, as these were generously sized for a house of this time. The owners wanted to add a study, a hobby/guest room and a master suite with walk-in robe and ensuite, as well as enlarging and improving upon the existing family bathroom. The brief sought to enlarge the open plan kitchen, while retaining a separate area for dining, and to create a separate kid’s lounge, laundry and mudroom. The clients also wished to include some ESD features such as rainwater collection and solar panels.
On the exterior we introduced a butterfly roof on the south side of the house, enhancing the mid-century appearance and allowing us to raise the ceiling up towards the view; extended upon the board and batten timber cladding originally used only on the front façade above the windows, copying and applying it to the whole front end wall; stripped the brickwork of the existing 80s sand render and refinished with white paint; and generally opened the house up to outdoor living spaces; and framed views to foster a symbiotic relationship with the surroundings.
On the interior we used our clean architectural shadow lines, timber paneling and painted brickwork. Inspired by the mid-century style, the taste of the client was aligned with a Scandinavian aesthetic. This results in a light, fresh and airy house that we think is fitting in the semi-urban setting.
When approaching the junction of old and new we chose to express the difference between the mid-century house and the contemporary additions and one example of how we have delineated the old and the new was to create a bespoke bar unit that separates the two eras, taking cues from the original mid-century inbuilt joinery.
Furthermore, we liked the existing large windows in the living areas and replaced the front windows with the same type, while at the new end of the house we created taller and bigger windows without cross mullions, which are a contemporary interpretation and modification of the original window type.