Krause bricks from Robertson's Building Products Pty Ltd played an important role in the modern transformation of a three-storeyed heritage listed boarding house in Potts Point, Sydney.

After several unsympathetic additions over the years, Potts Point Terrace has now been thoughtfully transformed back into a home – in a form that both celebrates its heritage and also welcomes it into the modern day. This suburban Sydney terrace home’s transformation is a marriage of traditional and contemporary building forms, harmoniously bringing together contrasting materials and textures, details and volumes.

Ergo Architecture & Interior took a contemporary approach to the terrace’s conversion from a boarding house back to a single residence. The entire design revolved around a new central courtyard with the original terrace at the front, whose features were carefully restored, and a new three-storeyed contemporary addition at the rear consisting of two storeys and a habitable roof space. This modern addition contains a kitchen, AV room, bedroom and en suite, its design complementing and respecting the form of the original building.

The success of the design revolved around maximising space in the courtyard. This space essentially allows the two buildings to remain separate, yet connected, serving as the transition while also adding light, cross ventilation and privacy. The Council’s Heritage Department approved the removal of the ground floor level of the terrace’s original skillion roof portion. A steel beam was installed from the original terrace to the new building at the rear to support the first-floor level of the original rear wing. A long pane of glass in the courtyard links the old and new buildings.

“It’s a credit to the Heritage Officers at the Council. They saw what we were trying to do and got on board with the idea and the result is that the integrity of the heritage building is maintained and we could create a far more amenable home for the owners,” Chris Kokkinis, owner, Ergo Architecture & Interiors, says.

Owner Stella Doumanis was closely involved in selecting the material palette, which beautifully responds to the forms of the original building and the heritage fabric of the area, brick being the hero.

“The connection between the old and new is very much about the bricks, they’re one of the key features of the house. I did a lot of research into bricks because I didn’t really find a brick that I was happy with, that was going to reflect the look I was after - because I wanted the same bricks in the new section externally as well as internally as a feature,” Doumanis explained.

She visited Robertson’s Building Products’ showroom in Melbourne and confirmed her choice of Krause Ghost Grey bricks after seeing homes built with them.

“The earthiness of the clay colours was a really big point – it’s really unique. And the texture and irregularity of the bricks creates almost an organic feel within the house.”

Considerable thought, time and effort went into determining how the bricks would be laid. Doumanis worked with JMichael Constructions and Coast 2 Coast Bricklaying to create four or five different samples before deciding on the right one, in terms of the randomness of how they would be laid, the colour of the mortar, how thick the mortar was and how much of it showed.

A combination of the slimline Emperor brick and standard brick sizes as well as standard bricks cut to size has been used at the Potts Point home. Laid internally and externally, the brickwork looks completely different in each location. Internally, they’re laid in an irregular pattern, with the mortar flush with the brick, while externally they have a raked mortar.

“They have two very different looks. With the raked mortar you get that beautiful shadowing that happens during the day, but internally it has a softer look because of the way the mortar has been laid. Then, when you look at a whole wall, because of the irregularities and imperfections in the bricks it looks organic, like it has been there for a long time,” Doumanis explained.

“The colours also worked so well with the original part of the house, they picked up on elements of that same grey/ khaki colour, and the greys we had throughout, as well as the wooden flooring,” she added.

Potts Point Terrace has become a talking point in the suburb, with many people stopping by to ask about the bricks.

Commenting on the reaction of family and friends, who are lucky enough to see the full extent of the restoration and addition inside, Doumanis said, “First of all it’s a ‘wow’ factor when they see the refurbishment of the old house, and then there’s that additional ‘wow’ factor as you transition to the new part and it’s, to a large part, due to the Krause bricks.”

Photographer: Sarah Braden Photography