Birchgrove House

Project status: Completed in 2014
Location: Birchgrove, NSW

We shall not cease from exploration
And the end of all our exploring
Will be to arrive where we started
And know the place for the first time.

TS ELIOT “Little Gidding”

Photography: Mark Syke and Richard Glover

AIA NSW Architecture Award Alterations and Additions – Housing, 2014

Houses Award Alterations and Additions over 200 m2, 2014

The house, a Victorian terrace in Birchgrove, was originally created, as were many such buildings, off a formula, a pattern that foreshadowed something similar beside it; not the neighbour it had for 100 years, a garden- strip.

The idea is to bi-furcate that garden-strip but concurrently reminisce a house. The garden becomes two living rooms; formal and informal. The tree as centre-focus of the formal garden sets the house to a form that renews its urban presence and creates a transparency of both intent and form.

White form and soft space is read in calm light.

The other garden is where children can play.

A room is extended on the first level to present to the north and a low form of structure enables the garden to flow through the living space from the front of the house to the rear and lets the sky do its work above.

The plan simply keeps the house as was found on the property. This enables an economy of intentions; a beautiful relationship between that which is old and that to which we aspire. Living rooms and spaces of the original house were given primacy and the entry sequence is per the original intent albeit with a new stair.

There was a concern that we would terminate a public view with a building in the garden. On the contrary, we have opened up the view from the street to the water; the public offering is a welcome addition to the street where our client has created a beautiful garden and a living space of genuine urban engagement; after all, this was the paradoxical proposition of the Victorians; to face the living rooms to the street.