Sculptural looks, sustainable heart

A contemporary two-storey rear addition to a classic bungalow introduces a new double-height kitchen, dining and living space with master suite above

Renovated and extended by Alexander & Co

From the designers:

Project description

This renovation is an alteration and addition to an existing interwar bungalow nestled amongst the mature, leafy green trees of Sydney’s North Shore. 

Respecting the suburban landscape and heritage conservation area we have restored the street-facing façade while exploring a hidden, modern sculptural annexe at the rear.

The three-bedroom home has been transformed into a blend of traditional and contemporary architecture. 

The design vernacular is courageous in its exploration of scale – the home now explores a tension between three distinct architectural languages: the existing front of the home, and the upstairs and downstairs of the new rear extension.

Design brief

Shaping this house was the owner’s pursuit of sustainable design practices, her views on upholding a holistic wellness approach and her forward-thinking innovation all of which were informative to the design.

The owners were a couple of near-empty nesters who were devoted to participating within their design process. 

Having an innovative spirit and invested interest in both personal wellness and sustainability through architecture, our team enjoyed a close, collaborative relationship with the owner.

The homeowner also challenged our practice to explore, source and create environmental solutions throughout the architectural process and pushed us to innovate the use of sustainable products, new technologies and ideas. 

From the double-glazed windows and geothermal climate control to the use of inert and low VOC materials – our team were required to deliver technologies, not within reach of many of our smaller domestic projects.

Our response

Needing to accommodate two guest bedrooms, a study, sitting room, guest bathroom, powder room and laundry all housed within the original front of the home, the new addition showcases a generous, open communal space complete with new double-height kitchen, dining and living space. 

Upstairs on the first floor are the private, sanctuary-like living quarters including an IR sauna, master bedroom and steam shower bathroom.

To the garden elevation and acting as both a shading and structural device, the Lê Corbusier inspired ‘chimney’ fuses the upper floor to the lower floor. 

The rendered, vertical chimney is a bold, architectural expression which provides a composition and support to the rear facade.

Inside, a key feature within the new extension is the oversized floor to ceiling sliding, steel glass doors which were strategically placed to maximise natural southern light and provide a beautiful line of sight to the landscaped garden beyond. 

Closed, these doors dramatically frame the lofty dimensions of the open, communal area.

Taking inspiration from Louis Khan and Vokes & Peters, we endeavoured to bring a contemporary Australian architectural language to life with Modernist reference, using a restrained palette of monochromatic greys, honed grey marble throughout the kitchen, cream, black steel and timbers such as spotted gum on the exterior and stained oak and pine inside.

The selection of bespoke lighting throughout the house complements each space and adds the owner’s personality. 

In particular, lighting pieces by Apparatus and Henry Wilson and furniture from Spence & Lyda, Cult Design and Great Dane all contribute to the Mid-century inspired contemporary Australian direction. 

For example, the living space is zoned using an Armadillo & Co. rug with seating that includes the low profile Newood Relax Light chair upholstered in a checkered material by BrogliatoTraverso for Cappellini from Cult Design and the iconic leather Prime Time Easy chair designed by Tom Stepp from Great Dane Furniture provides the perfect spot for relaxing or entertaining by the stone-clad fireplace.

In the dining hub of the home, Molloy Chairs in walnut designed by Nau from Cult Design surround a matching walnut-stained Johansen Dining Table from Great Dane while a collection of Spine Wood Stools in black by Fredericia from Cult Design perch at the kitchen island. 

A timber Elliot Dining Table by Jason Miller from Spence & Lyda adds a contrasting, soft element to the stair lobby space.

Upstairs in the master bedroom an upholstered Lewis Bed from Jardan Furniture informs this private space. 

A Ligne Roset Togo Small Settee designed by Michel Ducaroy from Domo Australia sits in good company alongside an Isola Armchair by Amura from Spence & Lyda, while the adjoining master bathroom features a freestanding Victoria & Albert New York Bath from Candana and an upholstered WNG chair designed by Magnus Læssøe Stephensen from Fred International.

 Design challenges overcome

Our biggest challenges came from the local council’s strict heritage conservation requirements which played an influential role in shaping our annexe design and its visibility from street level.

All new works were required to be concealed within the ‘shadow’ of the existing house's roof form. 

The site’s new works, now concealed to the south and also south facing, needed to achieve the concept of being both architecturally meaningful, while navigating the need to be predominantly illuminated from southern light.

Excellence and innovation in design outcome

Core to its philosophy, the house sets its intention upon innovating environmentally sustainable practices within what could be considered an entirely domestic residential enclave. 

The house is equally courageous architecturally and demonstrates design of high quality and is constructed to last. 

From the wellness-inspired circadian ‘dim’ lighting system to applying low VOC materials, each of these components were pivotal in maintaining integrity within the design.

Our dedicated homeowner felt it was important that the community of people working on completing her new home felt connected and subsequently she became an empowering pillar during the build.

Credit list

Renovation – extension and interior design
Interior design team
Charlene Cong, Madison Fay, Rachel Wan, Mengxi Deng
Solid spotted gum, by Australian Architectural Hardwoods
Interior bricks
PGH Bricks
Dining table
Elliot Oblong Dining Table by De La Espada
Sofa, three seater
Miller Sunny bed, by Jarden
Lounge armchair
Isola, by Amura lab
Lounge rug
Upholstered master bed
Lewis Bed, from Jardan Furniture
End-of-bed bench
Bankplus, by Röthlisberger interior design
Bath tapware
Patio tiles
Chambord Grey (sandblasted finish), from Snb Stone
Principal architect
Jeremy Bull
Landscape architect
Hugh Burnett
Feature ceiling lining board
Engineered European oak timber in walnut stain finish, by Nash Timbers
Kitchen island stools
Spine Wood Stool Black, from Fredericia Furniture
Dining chairs
Molly chair, by nau design
Wooden armchair, living room
Newood Relax Light, by Cappellini
Coffee table, living room
Tobi-Ishi, Tobi-Ishi by B&B Italia
Bathroom chair
WNG Chair by Fred International
Bedroom side table
Innate Side Table 40 Night, by Jon Goulder
Bedroom wall sconce
Duomo, by Nightworks
Victoria & Albert New York Bath, by Candana

Designed by: Alexander & Co

Story by: Trendsideas

Photography by: Anson Smart

23 Oct, 2022

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