Koorinda Avenue, Kensington

Project status: Completed in 2016
Location: Kensington, NSW

Photography: Brett Boardman

Quietly the answer needs to be ‘yes’ when asked to design a house for your sister, those things that can be considered an opportunity, alone should be at the forefront of one’s mind.
The family, for which this house was designed, is therefore known to me in every way; known with enormous intimacy. In designing any work of architecture, an important part is making sure that the work is well-tailored to the user; in this case, the user, oftentimes will (hopefully) be me.

And yet, the ideas should also enable, through their specificity, to develop salient universal themes; ideas that can carry to many projects. This is the paradox of this house, through the intimate, personal and peculiar, can be found the universal.

As was the case with many of its time, this California Bungalow, was created giving favour to the street.

The house must therefore include an orientation to the street, if it is to keep its essential character and yet the design is able to take advantage of a north-facing back-yard, the usual expectation of modern-day living. Nothing new is created in this program. Surprisingly, however, we have managed to enable the melding of history and contemporary life; melded in a manner that is both ‘useful’ and respectful; singular and pervasive; these elements are not exclusive in design; another welcome paradox.

The plan retains the primary intentions of the original entry sequence. Crafted details are preserved and reinterpreted through the use of materials and scale. An existing arch finds companionship in the language of a stair handrail, and then again in the curve of a brick fireplace. The singularity of the original arch, taken as a default in the pattern-books of history can now engage with something specific.

On the ground floor, the north wall slides open to create an outdoor room, connected with a garden. Light and air is welcome; the eternal environmental response.

A large crafted bay presents the boys’ rooms to the garden. How pleasant it will be to be connected to the green of the suburb and at the same time, there is a sense of protection in the stepped detailing which allows views out and air in. It is my gift of clarity for the minds in the people of our future; my nephews.