Minimal materials used in conjunction with new technology provide a creative and sustainable solution for this small cottage extension called ‘Henry Street House’ in Hawthorn, Melbourne.

The architect, Eugene Cheah Architecture was briefed to recreate the rear of the Victorian weatherboard house which had been subject to a failed extension attempt made up of dark, tight rooms.

An open plan kitchen, dining and living space was added to the narrow terrace under a brand new LVL structure with expressed rafters and a long linear skylight to the north.



The LVL is an Australian plantation-grown Araucaria Cunninghamii, commonly termed Hoop Pine, and was cut out of slab-sized sheets using a CNC fabrication process prompted by parametric modelling.

Structural elements are employed as the main expression of the building fabric and define the experience of the new space

Working with the fabricators and the engineer, Eugene Cheah Architecture adjusted and developed the LVL structure parametrically to get the very most out of the LVL slabs. This meant that the resultant wastage, which would normally be discarded, was simply redistributed to create rafters of varying depths.

A full-length skylight on the north edge of the space brings in abundant light, which is filtered and diffused by the exposed rafters, changing through the course of the day, and amplified by the varying depths of the rafters

Besides creating an interesting pattern, the rhythmic variations in the depths of the rafters also provide figuration and delineation to the living, dining and kitchen spaces, and diffuse and filter natural light penetrating the skylight.

In the existing cottage, cornices and roses of the Victorian ceilings served as ornamentation as well as a means to define a room or space. This approach was appropriated for the extension, where the roof structure is utilised expressively

The joinery within the extension is also an A grade hoop pine.