As the age-old adage goes, if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. When Chindarsi Architects were approached to undertake the alteration and addition of a 1920s weatherboard cottage in the Perth suburb of Beaconsfield, a complete overhaul was never on the cards – not just because the budget was limited and space was scarce, but because the existing weatherboard already had a perfectly amenable structure and form.
The first step of the design process for Harvey Residence was to look at what was already there – and then to determine what could be done with it. To minimise demolition and to capitalise on existing assets, the timber frame of the extension – leftover from work done in the 1980s – was kept. However, a bit of rearranging was necessary to make the internal layout more proportionate, such as the opening out of ground-level and first-floor rooms onto decked outdoors areas. Not only did this extension increase the plans of individual rooms, it also accommodated second-floor views over to Fremantle.
“The outside areas lift the house out and over the lush back garden and to the sky beyond, with glimpses of greenery afforded by both high and low slot windows,” says the architect. “None of these changes were drastic in scale, but they add a spacious, open-air quality to the home which defies its modest footprint.”
Above the dining area, a double-height void was also created to facilitate light, air and a voluminous sense of space. Similar to the bedroom, this living space was oriented to the west to take advantage of views. But with views comes excess (and sometimes unwanted) sunlight. To combat this, Chindarsi Architects installed adjustable sun-shading and pergolas to the additional bedroom and living spaces – simple but effective protection from the elements.
“With a tight budget [the architects] have minimised the costs by reworking a 1980s extension and have managed to create new and well-proportioned spaces both inside and out, with a deck off the living area and a balcony to the upstairs bedroom providing wonderful views over Fremantle,” says the Western Australian Chapter of the Australian Institute of Architects (AIA), who awarded Harvey Residence the Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations and Additions) prize at the 2017 WA Architecture Awards.
A close relationship with the client is a particular consideration for residential projects, and even more particular for Harvey Residence. One of the clients’ concerns was that the alteration and addition needed to accommodate their extensive collection of art and mid-century furniture. This was a “significant factor” in the design, according to the architect.
To facilitate this material element of the brief, Chindarsi Architects incorporated open shelving and “gallery-style” lighting, to make the home into what could be described as a highly liveable display cabinet. Simple colours and materials – such as small-format ceramic textures and natural woods – were chosen for their ability to sit gently yet beautifully in the background, letting the clients' artefacts take centre stage.
“This is a gentle extension that pays homage to the existing weatherboard building with the clever use of lightweight construction materials and considered detailing,” says the WA Chapter of AIA. “All this has worked well to enhance the clients’ wonderful furniture and art collections.
“Chindarsi Architects have delivered their clients more than they expected with an addition to their home tailored to their way of life resulting in an intuitive design showing great maturity.”
Harvey Residence was made open to the public as part of this year’s Fremantle Open House.