christopher polly architect binary house spatial material

Binary House marks the coming-together of spatial and material opposites; the amalgamation of a cellular 1960s yellow brick home and an open, transparent rear extension that responds to its coastal bush setting.

The new two-storey pavilion provides an expansive living area with large apertures that capture sky and landscape views. The addition reflects contemporary patterns of use for meal preparations, dining and enjoyment of directly connected outdoor spaces. Described by architect Christopher Polly as “quality over quantity”, the build retains significant outdoor area with a total floor area that is 23 percent of its lot size.

“[This project] responsibly preserves and refurbishes a mid-century housing type which may have otherwise been demolished, to enable the embodied energy of its original footprint to be significantly retained – while new work is built from a restrained, pre-finished and robust low maintenance material palette for a long-term outcome,” says Polly.

“While it creatively accommodates the owner’s spatial requirements, the pavilion also enables multiple sight lines across interior spaces to its setting, makes numerous connections to light and sky, and provides generous access to previously poorly connected exterior areas.

“Particularly rewarding is how the asymmetric pinched-in rear profile enables greater solar access onto the generous thermal mass of a concrete wall and ground floor slab in the cooler months, and the manner in which the cantilevered concrete terrace edge and sculpted concrete step element double as seats for enjoyment of the garden.”

Key challenges

The biggest challenge was addressing the entire brief in an inventive manner while still maintaining a compact footprint, according to Polly. Other challenges included addressing the original home’s poor ventilation and light, and improving the relationship with the rear yard while trying not to overlook the neighbouring homes.

“The decision to retain the original front house prompted a planning strategy which signalled the organisation of the entire ‘private program' within its available envelope,” says Polly.

“A reworking of its plan with new vaulted skylights and windows now vastly improves access to light and ventilation. The 'public' program was then freed to be composed within the modest footprint of a 'new build' pavilion at the rear.

“It significantly improves privacy via an opaque southern face and northern blade screen, while concurrently providing desired transparency for unfettered spatial relationships within its volume and across its two parts for strengthened connections to its setting.”

Using sustainable materials

christopher polly architect binary house spatial material

Materials and product selections were all integrated for life-cycle durability and performance in their respective applications.

Salvaged timber was used to reframe sections of the walls and roof to the existing dwelling, while bricks were recycled to re-form its rear.

The pavilion incorporates pre-finished materials, underground rainwater collection for toilets and gardens, water and energy efficient fixtures, fittings and lighting, and an evacuated tube solar hot water system.

Key products:

  • Bluescope Colorbond - Custom Orb exterior cladding and roofing
  • Alspec - Aluminium framed glazed doors and windows in powdercoat finish
  • Acmeda - External vertical concealed blind systems
  • Centor - Aluminium framed eco-screen integrated insect screen systems
  • Mister Ply & Wood - Hoop Pine BB Plywood to all joinery and stair balustrades
  • Coffs Harbour Hardwoods - Blackbutt select strip flooring & Blackbutt 40mm thick stair treads
  • Caesarstone - Kitchen ‘Sleek Concrete’ benchtops and splashback