It’s an all too familiar story, particularly in Australia’s older urban centres, and it often reads in parallel with the evolution of neighbourhoods.  It begins when a modest cottage is built in the early history of city suburb and it finishes when an architecture enthusiast (with money) moves in centuries later and tactfully restores the building to its former look—undoing hundreds of years’ worth of unsympathetic renovations in the process.

The tale of ‘Centennial Park Estate’ in Sydney, NSW began as a one-storey Edwardian home, built in 1913 by a speculative builder in what was the Centennial Parklands Subdivision Corporation (established in 1905). In the 1970s another chapter was added, as working class families moved in and made significant alterations to the rear of the house, as well as to the cottage’s side and front verandahs.

The final chapter (so far) introduces a new type of client who sought to redefine the tired property into a stately family home, one which preserved the historical aspects of the original house whilst incorporating elements of modern day living.


Charged with delivering this vision was Peter Willett Associates who went about refurbishing elements of the old cottage that deserved emphasis while adding modern facility and technology that were more aligned with the neighbourhood’s newfound affluence.

The discreetness of PWA’s restoration is most noted in the project’s second storey addition which is actually built within the roof cavity of the old house that was altered from a hip to an extended gable at its rear. This meant the home’s identifiable slate roof remained intact while the clients almost doubled their living space.

Eyelid dormer windows were then added to the home’s northern side and detailed to match its Edwardian history. The window additions and gable extension give light and ventilation to the second storey living spaces but also bring light deep into the first level floor plate.


The extension also plays home to the client’s new kitchen which connects the formal dining and living areas, both distinctly historical, to the rear garden which includes a contemporary landscaped pool area and garden.

To the western rear of the property, an old interwar garage was duplicated and “paired” with the neighbouring garage of the same period, forming a new portal to the rear lane (see below). The double garage was significantly increased to incorporate a pool plant, garbage room, cellar and workshop, as well as general storage.


8-1.jpgWeather-protected access to the house is also offered through the garage and under a raised plinth (see left) that services the living levels of the house and was created from a recycled stone. PWA Principal Peter Willett calls the creation of the plinth as one of the most challenging aspects of the project and says it required expert geotechnical input and resulted in an apron of piling being laid around the transition point.

The latest chapter of the story at Centennial Park reinstated the significance of the home in a heritage conservation area, taking contextual clues in its design and material use from the original dwelling. But PWA have also added much-desired modern amenity that is more aligned with the neighbourhood’s new socio-economic class.


Limiting volume of new materials:
  • During construction, PWA advised the reuse of all the slate tiles from changes made to the roof whilst similarly recycling brickwork from changes into attic walls to add thermal mass to this level.
  • All existing sandstone blocks on site were relocated into the design of a retaining wall plinth
  • Parts of the existing pool used as a retaining wall for a new underground rainwater tank.
  • By employing these sustainable design strategies, PWA has been able to present the clients with a building that has less energy and water requirements, which has been constructed with fewer natural resources.
Passive Design:
  • The additional floor created in the roof space faces a northwesterly aspect, maximising winter afternoon warmth and natural heating.
  • The extension of the brickwork into the newly opened roof space, allows for even cooling and heating, maximising the benefits of passive design. The clients are able to significantly limit supplementary air conditioning to only the third level by mechanical exhausting of hot roof areas, introducing masonry as thermal mass to flatten out temperatures.


Skyrange Windows

Astrawalker, Icon series in Brown bronze (just do a general one about the series)

New Age Veneers, Navurban, Scarborough

RMS Natural Stone & Ceramics, honed Calacatta marble

Pitella, in Antique Brass

Beacon Lighting, Southampton Large Wall Bracket in Antique Black with filament LED globe  

Artlight, Zero 1 LED wall light