This is a project for an extension to the rear of a single-storey 1920s bungalow house in Toorak Gardens, one of Adelaide’s leafy inner suburbs. The main requirements of the clients were to create a more open, attractive dining and living area, improving the kitchen space, better linkages to the rear garden, while maintaining a three-bedroom configuration. Additionally, the clients have strong links to Japan and affection for the aesthetics of traditional Japanese architecture.
While working with the requirements and constraints of the clients’ brief, we were also interested in exploring what potentials could be developed through alterations to the typical typology of Adelaide single-family dwellings, and how the standard format for house extensions could be rethought.
The original house was a handsome, solidly built double-fronted bungalow, with boulder-dash rustication, stick-style verandahs, and solid timber window and door joinery. It had been extended once already, with a ordinary brick lean-to structure with no particular redeeming qualities tacked on at the back in the early 1980s. We developed a number of options, all of which involved demolishing the lean-to and replacing it with the new extension, while maintaining the original structure mostly intact.
Option A involved adding a open, horizontally unfolding volume at the rear, capped with a varying roof line produced by taking the section of the original house and extrapolating its shape, generating a partial “ghost” of the older building. This allowed light to filter from above via clerestory windows, giving a generous, uplifting quality to the new living spaces. The junction between old and new was given expression with a transparent seam in the form of a long skylight, creating a attractive new entrance from the west. The overall spatial character of the proposed space was horizontally expansive, given surprise and drama with upward views to the sky.
The strategy of Option A involved adding single east-west oriented volume to the rear of the original house; by contrast, the strategy of Option B involves extending two wings oriented north-south, interleaved with a linear garden space. One wing extends a line of bedrooms to the west; while the eastern wing unfolds an open living and study space, concluded with a covered open-air deck. Between the two wings, at the heart of the house, is the kitchen and dining space, which looks out on the axis of the linear garden court. This scheme allowed a clear distinction between the public and private programs to be articulated in the spatial arrangement of the extension, while connecting them via the linear garden. The corridors at the perimeter of the garden recall the engawa verandah spaces of tradition Japanese dwellings, and this sense is reinforced by the timber decking underfoot. The semi-indoor landscape of the garden court is complemented with the material authenticity of off-form concrete walls and exposed steel sections – a combination of a Miesian interpretation of Japanese sukiya timber architecture with the robust mass of contemporary Japanese concrete – all in an Adelaide backyard!