Approached by a repeat client to refresh a grand Victorian terrace house in Paddington, Smart Design Studio has created Lena House. Ingeniously converting an existing single-story garage into a contemporary infill structure, the conversion is central to the transformation of the home that acts as the working heart of the dwelling, with stairs and lifts doubling as arteries that connect all five levels.
The site’s unique arrangement allowed Smart Design Studio to create the infill structure. With an almost vacant piece of land beside the house, the infill completely unlocks the floorplan and bridges the gap between the carport between the house and the neighbouring home of the property is now home to a staircase. The infill ensures better flow throughout the home, with spacious living volumes featuring within the house from front to back.
The street-level slab has been removed as part of the restoration in order to create an airy light-filled double-height space with brick blade walls, allowing natural light to saturate the spaces beyond the new living and dining space and into the kitchen. This subterranean space is no longer dark, flowing on from the reimagined room with exaggerated proportionality and vast hanging walls for the client’s extensive art collection.
The brick blade walls offer both a visual connection to the front addition and shading. They also allow for flush opening of tall steel-framed doors onto the courtyard. The walls help to control temperature throughout the year, keeping the hot summer out while allowing the lower winter sun in. The brick exterior is a direct response to the Sydney streetscape, which features a number of dwellings with similar materialistic features that intersect Victorian and Contemporary eras to complement the painted rendered walls. The new brickwork lightly touches the existing masonry, a strip of glazing running in between the two elements. A narrow full-height window connects the historic facade to the new brick form.
The sustainable elements of the home have been implemented into both new and existing parts. Hydronic floor heating and cooling, natural cross ventilation, good solar orientation, thermally massive construction, and heat-exchange technology mitigate the need for an air conditioning system. Understated materials and fine details have been carefully curated to intertwine with the heritage styling of the home. The clean lines and minimal detailing of the Corian kitchen provide contrast to the existing textured sandstone walls at lower ground level. A custom steel bookshelf is similarly finely crafted and solid yet decidedly modern.
A lawn, splash pool, and paved area for entertaining were accommodated within a relatively small footprint without compromising rear-lane access garaging and storage. The design prioritises function, and resolved to sit elegantly within the bays defined by the brick blades of the back elevation. Each element within the intricate puzzle has been carefully considered, creating an attractive yet hardworking whole from the courtyard that steps down to accommodate parking at a lower less unobtrusive level to the bluestone and marble-lined pool.
Giving a grand Victorian home a contemporary touch up, Smart Design Studio have treated the existing dwelling with great care in order to ensure its character remains in place. Its new elements have increased the home’s functionality and aesthetic, with a number of implementations designed to bring a sense of contemporary to a home rich in history and constitution.