Sumit Singhal loves modern architecture. He comes from a family of builders who have built more than 20 projects in the last ten years near Delhi in India. He has recently started writing about the architectural projects that catch his imagination.
Parmelia Street House in Fremantle, Western Australia by PHILIP STEJSKAL ARCHITECTURE
September 25th, 2017 by Sumit Singhal
Article source: PHILIP STEJSKAL ARCHITECTURE
The project site sits on the corner of two quiet suburban streets in the beach-side suburb of South Fremantle. The area is characterised by single storey weatherboard workers’ cottages of the late 19th Century. Many have been restored, typically brought back to their original footprint of 2 rooms and a corridor, lean-to accretions of subsequent decades removed to make way for a new extension, which is a summary also of our project.
The notable point of difference in our case is the corner site, which meant that the rear extension became front façade and public interface.
Our clients’ brief was very open. Beyond programmatic requirements and a desire to connect with their surroundings, the only other stipulation was that the rear extension replicate the basic form of the retained cottage; basically a weatherboard shack with a gabled roof.
The project therefore developed into a series of distinct elements, outlined as follows:
The two-room cottage was restored structurally and also received new exterior cladding and roofing. Internal finishes were retained as far as possible (floors and some wall lining). Windows were partially replaced to match. Lean-to additions were removed.
Sun shades / privacy screens were retro-fitted to side elevations.
As the primary element, it contains main living spaces at first floor level, master bedroom and garage below.
Conceptually, our approach was to deliver a contemporary re-interpretation of the gable-roofed, weatherboard cottage.
A fundamental deficiency of the original cottage was its lack of sun shading to side elevations.
Instead of attaching elements to the new cottage, we chose to thicken perimeter walls to create in-built window reveals for sun protection and space for integrated storage.
This allowed us to maintain the archetypal form of the building whilst managing to incorporate sound passive design principles.
Connection to surroundings is offered via curated views in various directions including upwards through a roof window, framing the Norfolk Pine tree just outside.
A combination of window openings, ‘Juliet’ balconies, and a large terrace at the western end are the instruments of engagement with context, while vertical batten screens and hinged shutters allow the owners to fine-tune this interface.
Our clients asked for a strong connection to their surroundings. However, they also wanted the ability to shut down in the event of wild weather or the occasional desire to close off to the world — a friendly engagement with the street, without compromise to privacy or comfort.
Connecting the existing and new cottages is a single storey link structure, flat-roofed and colour-differentiated. Flanking an East-West corridor, it accommodates a bathroom, laundry and an additional bedroom. On account of its position on the site, the structure creates a series of courtyards to provide cross ventilation and daylight to ground floor rooms.
The link is visible from Parmelia Street, alongside the existing cottage, as a new entrance point. At its other end, as viewed from the side street, the structure peeks out from under the skirt of the upper floor cottage addition, to provide access to a side “breezeway” entrance and the garage.
The link structure is clad in black-painted fibre cement board, in contrast to the white weatherboards of both new and existing cottage elements.
Curated left-over space, these courtyards allow the building to breathe and admit natural light to all spaces.
Each courtyard services at most two rooms, meaning they are rather private.
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