When an architect performs an alteration or addition to a heritage-listed home, there is often an unspoken – and even more often, a spoken – expectation that the modern design demurs to the look, feel and fabric of the existing building.

When Dalecki Design undertook an addition to the century-old Perth home known as The Wasley, they weren’t quite so demure. The extension to the heritage-listed home – which saw the addition of a bedroom and a renewed focus on entertainment spaces – is a bold departure from the old style. And yet, it is at pains to retain a sense of cohesion and sensitivity.

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The orange-brick fa├žade of the existing heritage building has been left almost exactly as it was, with the dark, angular extension tucked neatly alongside it. In this sense, there is a clear distinction between the eras. While Dalecki Design says they chose “contrasting materials” and “sharp, minimalist lines” to create “a clear definition between the old and the new”, there is still a cohesion between the structures, supported by the incorporation of both neutral colours and the use of existing floorboards throughout the contemporary spaces.

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When Dalecki Design was approached by the client family to undertake the project, the brief was to open up the house, which had previously had “a dark, impractical layout with no breeze paths or natural light”. It also lacked sufficient storage.

In its stead, the family wanted a kid-friendly home that revolved around entertainment areas – both indoors and out. While Dalecki left the two existing front bedrooms in their original zone of the house, a third bedroom was added towards the rear, ensuring privacy. This was supplemented by the addition of an adjoining bathroom to achieve “a much more liveable [and] practical layout”.

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The two birds of light and entertainment space were tackled with the single stone: glass frontages. North-facing windows were incorporated into the new addition to capture and disperse natural light throughout the entirety of the residence, while large sliding doors were included so that the living area could be completely opened to the outdoors.

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As well as bringing in light, these operable glass doors work to transform the central living area into one big entertaining zone.

As a bonus prize, the floor-to-ceiling glass makes the home’s city views accessible from both internal and external entertaining spaces.

From the architect:

What was the brief?

Located on a 385sqm inner-city block, the owner wanted to transform this tired, run-down home into an entertainer’s dream, suitable for a young family. The existing home with three bedrooms, one bathroom and no storage had a dark, impractical layout with no breeze paths or natural light. The alteration and addition was to be sympathetic to the existing 100-year-old heritage-listed home, while still creating a bold design statement.

The brief was to create a liveable home, centred on an entertainer's open-plan living area, which captured their city views and created a well-balanced indoor/outdoor connection. While the home was to be child-friendly, the owners also wanted to create a luxurious master retreat, where they could escape to the privacy of their own space. 

Due to the inner-city location, where congested streets are commonplace, allowing space for two off-street car bays was a priority in the design. Overall, the owner was looking for a fast and cost-effective construction, so it was imperative that the design and [selected] materials supported this.

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What was your solution?

In order to let the intricate heritage details shine, the addition incorporates contrasting materials and sharp, minimalist lines, creating a strikingly modern form. While this creates a clear definition between the old and the new, a neutral colour scheme and the use of existing floorboards throughout provide a seamless transition between the two eras.

What building methods were used?

Lightweight timber-frame construction was used for a number of reasons. To start with, this type of construction was better suited to the overall form of the proposed design and the format of the finishing materials desired. In addition, this type of construction was used not only for its speed but also its cost-effectiveness. Given the large distance between the built-up existing house level and the natural ground level, the addition would have required substantial expensive retaining if an alternative construction method was used.

What were the key products used?

The entire new addition was clad in the Weathertex product range, a wood-based composite product. The main living addition form utilised the textured vertical board whereas the remainder of the additions were clad in the smooth finish wide-board format.

What were the key challenges?

The overarching challenge of this project was working with the existing 100-year-old home. Working with heritage-listed structures, there are always certain restrictions and guidelines that the design must adhere to while also being sympathetic to the existing heritage with any new works. However, rather than restricting the project, this contributed to the finished design. The character of the existing home beautifully [complements] the contrasting modern addition.

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How is the project unique?

Working with the existing 100-year-old home and wanting to utilise the original structure to its full potential posed its own unique challenges.

Both the new bathroom and new walk-in-robe feature original fireplaces from the former existing rooms, which now act as key design features of these new rooms. These were both present in the original home so, rather than destroying the character, they were worked into the new design, creating a beautiful statement without compromising the new functional, practical layout of the home.

Original ceiling roses, leadlight windows and timber floorboards also serve as beautiful design features, complementing the new modern [finishes] while also hinting at the home's past life.