Urban Barnyard House

Architecture Residential Melbourne , Australia

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Description

Affectionately dubbed by us as the ‘urban-barnyard house’, the original house was an early 1900s, 2 BR Edwardian weatherboard cottage in Reservoir. The brief included removing existing lean-to kitchen and extending to provide new kitchen, dining, living and flexible living / guest room. Also, substantial renovation of the existing house to update and accommodate 3 bedrooms (move entry to accommodate new WIR to master), family bathroom, 2nd WC, laundry and storage. All finishes updated to unify ‘old and new’ parts of the house.

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In recent years, the architectural community has done a wonderful job in promoting awareness and the benefit of using a residential architect. One of our recently completed projects, the Urban Barnyard House, was part of Open House's 'Naked Architect Series 2' which aimed to provide the public a guide to commissioning and working with a residential architect. Interestingly, during the presentation at the house the discussion kept coming back to one point: choose the right architect for your project! It may sound trivial to us the design profession, but for our clients, they certainly had no idea at the time and the outcome of their house extension could have been totally different.

When the owners of this 1920's weatherboard bungolow first contacted us, they already had plans of an extension drawn up, moved out and about to start building. They wanted a consultation, some assurance that it would be alright. “They just couldn’t get excited about it” they said anxiously.

We agreed to the consultation because they were a referral of an old client. Essentially the floor plan provided all the functions they wanted, however the design response seemed somewhat generic. When we look at the design against the client brief questionnaire they have provided, we felt there were some mis-opportunities to incorporate a bit more of their personality and their life style. Out of the handful of site photos we received, there was a photo of their chickens, bees and this amazing timber shed in the backyard. There was so much the design could draw reference from!

To our surprise, at the end of an hour-long consultation the owners decided to start over again. It was not a light decision as they have already invested money and time in it. However, they felt engaged with the project and being heard for the first time in the process. We worked closely with owners throughout the redesign. With nothing to lose, they were completely open to ideas, which set the dynamic for our working relationship. Each decision was approached with consideration of how to best suit their lifestyle now and as the family grow up. They were quite attached to the existing house, the memories and significance some of items held. So we tried to incorporate them where we could.

They have been in for just more than a year now. Every now and then we still get a message from the clients telling us how much they love the house. How it feels like an extension of their lifestyle.

Questions and Answers

Who are the clients and what's interesting about them?

The clients were a family of four, with 2 young children. They had outgrown the original home but loved it and the site. They were very open and engaged with the briefing process which translated to a design tailored to fit their current and future lifestyle. In addition to our human clients, there were also the dog, cat, chickens and honey bees to consider, all participants in the rich family life of this busy family.

What was the brief?

To update and reconfigure the existing 2 bedroom bungalow to provide 3 bedrooms, a family bathroom, laundry and powder room. The extension was to provide contemporary kitchen, living, dining with an additional flexible living space. The layout was to be open enough to be functional and flexible but also to allow for more cozy and intimate spaces.

What were the key challenges?

There was time pressure, as the client had already moved out when we took on the project and didn't want to be out of the house longer than was necessary. There was budget pressure to keep things simple and effective, rather than showy or complex.

What were the solutions?

To address both time and budget pressures, the form and construction of the project were kept relatively conventional, with small details to provide a considered and refined outcome. The extension was pulled away from the existing house minimising disruption to the 100 year old roof and structure. The framing is typical lightweight construction with truss roof structure. Roofing and cladding were conventional, easy to work with materials. These decisions meant documentation could progress quickly and construction was straightforward, saving time and money.

Details

Project size

178 m2

Site size

527 m2

Completion date

2017

Building levels

1

Project team

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