According to Foomann Architecture, Joinery Box House is a lesson in “consolidation”. In the sense the architects use the term, it is in reference to the client brief, which required the merging of inhabitants and their extended families; the consolidation of their respective lives and belongings. But this theme extends beyond the briefing process to describe the architecture itself. From front to back, Joinery Box House takes on a completely different character, shedding its street-facing heritage brickwork to take on a more modern character at the rear.
In short, Joinery Box House is not just a consolidation of occupants; it is a consolidation of architectural styles across the decades.
When Foomann Architecture took on the project, there were significant constraints that formed the framework of the intervention. Rather than an overhaul, the architects were required to approach the façade delicately, overseeing a respectful restoration that upgraded the front half of the house with “a new openness” that connected sitting and study areas while keeping the materiality and form intact.
However, the second half of the project allowed more scope to play. Taller and narrower than the front façade, the rear-facing extension features cedar cladding and straps placed in a gridded pattern. While this choice of materiality challenges and diverges from the front portion, it responds to the existing two-storey studio at the rear (which itself received a new architectural envelope as part of the project). In this way, the rear extension acts as an aesthetic bridge between old and new; a Goldilocks structure that is neither too radical nor too acquiescent.
This same easy approach to stylistic transition is mirrored in the interior scheme of Joinery Box House. According to Foomann Architects, “a restrained palette was used throughout with slight shifts between spaces, creating a subtle transition between new and old and providing each room with its own feel and identity”.
Although shifting, the interior architecture is anything but inconsistent. Foomann Architects says that the restoration of Joinery Box House was “an opportunity for meticulous details” – both aesthetic and functional. To a large degree, this “opportunity” stemmed from the challenge of having to facilitate, through design, the coming together of the home’s occupants.
“The extension to this inner-city heritage home is intended as a tidy, fastidious, timber-clad structure,” says the architect. “The inhabitants moved from their own homes into this new house together, consolidating their extensive art collections and large extended families. Art, furniture and objects were scheduled and located during the planning process. The dining room comfortably accommodates twenty-four diners, located in a prime position facing the garden, and features an acoustically treated ceiling.
“The design balances a desire for transparency and solidity that is illustrated in the execution of the stair,” the architect continues. “At the literal and figurative centre of the house, the cranked staircase is a substantial object that permits views to the north courtyard and acts as furniture facing the kitchen.”