April, 2014


With a corner location and northerly orientation along the side this home on a small site in Leichhardt provided great scope for reinvention. Not much of the original character of the semi-detached victorian remained when the owners bought this place but they could instantly see that the site had potential.

Benedict Design's approach to turning this small house into a modern family home required some simple and bold additions. From an early stage it was decided that the best approach for getting building approval was via complying development. This meant there were some very black and white rules about setbacks and heights that ultimately shaped the architecture of the home.

The simple and bold form of the gable ended original house provided design cues for the addition and elevated the forms from simple boxes to something with character. A jumble of previous additions were removed from the rear to make way for a simple space that houses a new kitchen, dining area and informal family room. The existing 3rd bedroom is carved into 2, providing a new bathroom and a pantry / laundry space that extends from the end of the new kitchen.

The front entry is relocated to the side street via an entry court that is housed partly in the remains of the existing bathroom (no new work could occur within 2m of the boundary). This relocation of the entry allowed a more efficient use of spaces by removing the hallway which worked out to be the best place for a stair. You enter into the middle of the house and are presented with a wash of light that comes down over the end of the kitchen.

Upstairs 2 new bedrooms a bathroom and small study space are added. The form of this level is driven by the setback and height requirements and by a desire to maintain a simple roof form when viewed from the front. All that is seen is a pop up row of windows above the ridge line. A bathroom, robe and storage spaces are kept up the front under the existing roofline, creating some interesting sculptural spaces.

Outside a courtyard type outdoor living, and less formal grassed area are created with access via large sliding doors that disappear into the brick wall at the end. A large vegetable patch and garage remain with a few upgrades. The whole house, garage and side fence gets bagged and painted to unify the various coloured bricks and provide a canvas into which some timber and steel details nest.

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