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    Highlight House by SSD Studio

    9 Alpha Road Willoughby NSW 2068

    The Highlight House is a simple yet inspired addition in Willoughby, with its design underpinned by innovation and excellence in sustainable design.

    The concept of a highlight window at the transition of the new and old enlivens the modest side addition, housing a new kitchen and dining room, opening out to a generous veranda and pool. Daylight and breezes are bought into the living spaces to minimise heating and cooling costs, while the beautiful garden enlivens every space.

    Cost was a huge challenge for this project as the budget was relatively low compared with the client’s aspirations.

    Sydney is a temperate climate yet summer can be hot, requiring cooling and winter can be cold, requiring heating. Post-war, double brick semi-detached houses, like the Highlight House are typically cool in summer yet cold in winter, in Sydney.

    The design recognised these conditions and embraced the north-eastern aspect of the rear of the site, to open up the house to breezes, via cross ventilation for cooling in summer, yet more access to sunlight for warmth in winter.

    The new addition can be closed off from the hallway and bedrooms to further prevent heat loss and is a relatively small space to heat when additional active heating is required. The roof, floor and external walls are well insulated as lightweight construction is typically not as thermally efficient as masonry construction.

    Selected materials reduced the overall carbon footprint of the project, as well as improving the thermal efficiency. Rainwater bladder tanks are used for roof water collection, garden watering and grey water recycling. Where possible renewable, plantation timbers were selected to limit the impact on resources generally throughout the construction.

    KEY INITIATIVES

    • The design of the alteration and addition considered sustainability from first principles, designing a living space that is open to daylight and natural ventilation, to passively heat and cool the spaces with a connection to the garden, creating a sense of wellbeing. The changes to the existing fabric were relatively small yet they were quite transformative
    • The design of the new veranda, as a cantilevered structure off a painted masonry base allowed the new addition to "float" over the landscape - the concept of "touching the earth lightly “, a contemporary interpretation of the vernacular Australian veranda and the Japanese Temple, reflective of the client’s cultural backgrounds
    • The veranda, while providing a wonderful outdoor living space and connection to the garden also shades the summer sun, to prevent heat gain, yet allows winter sun to penetrate the internal rooms, to reduce heating costs
    • The highlight window is south facing bringing year round daylight into the dining room and kitchen, creating a fabulous sense of space to the new addition, and enabling the existing roof to be retained
    • Timber was selected for both the structural framing, the flooring internally and externally. Selected for its sustainable properties as well as affordability, being low carbon, renewable and non-toxic. Timber finishes externally were coated in Low VOC, water based coatings 
    • Finishes internally were Low VOC paints, natural timber elements in the joinery and pre-finished engineered boards which do not require High VOC polyurethane coatings
    • Bladder rainwater tanks are concealed under the veranda for grey water recycling and garden watering
    • Appliances and fixtures were selected for their water and energy saving ratings
    • The fastlane pool selected sits above ground, with a small footprint uses fewer resources and energy than a traditional pool

    PRODUCTS

    INTERNAL FLOORING
    FLOORBOARDS ONLINE, ENGINEERED OAK FLOORBOARDS

    EXTERNAL DECKING
    FSC PLANTATIONS, BLACKBUTT WIDE BOARDS

    EXTERNAL CLADDING
    FSC PLANTATIONS, SPOTTED GUM

    SOLID JOINERY ELEMENTS
    SOLID AMERICAN OAK, INTERNAL AND EXTERNAL

    TIMBER VENEER
    FEATURE KITCHEN ELEMENTS

    BENCHTOPS
    CAESARSTONE 

    Key Info

    Architect: SSD Studio
    Cost: Approximately $2,500sqm
    Photography: Sophie Solomon 

    Professionals

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