A Hidden Addition - Unfurled House by Christopher Polly Architect
Petersham, NSW, Australia
Hidden by a heritage Federation façade, a modernist two-storey addition by Christopher Polly Architect, carefully stitched to the primary dwelling, waits to be discovered. Deliberately preserving the original frontage, the new extension sits as a contrasting form, bold in its design and captivating in its execution.
The brief was to create a new addition while retaining the existing lawn and established garden areas. Christopher explains that the remarkable design was delivered “in a highly creative manner within a modest footprint.” Working with, rather than against, the existing site, Christopher utilised the incline to the rear to create a sectional split-level extension to the home. On the northern wall, bridging the old and new, a central courtyard marks a point of connection between the two.
Working with, rather than against, the existing site, Christopher utilised the incline to the rear to create a sectional split-level extension to the home.
Inside the home, an astonishing central vaulted roof emanates from the old house up to the new two-storey addition. This not only provides a glazed circulation link for ventilation but allows natural light to flood the interior. The home unfolds in three dimensions and like a flowering bud in bloom, it appears to unfurl into a series of connected interior spaces. The difference between the original dwelling and the new extension is not just in the architecture alone. The interior is dominated by geometric shapes, sharp lines and angles with a material selection that is subdued, a stark contrast to the traditional heritage residence. Christopher says, “the interior palette is restrained. The monochrome colour scheme provides a distinctive counterpoint to the conserved Federation details, materials and colour palette of the original residence.”
Inside the home, an astonishing central vaulted roof emanates from the old house up to the new two-storey addition.
The impressive carved voids expand the space and encourage a spatial interplay between levels, enabling multiple sightlines across the interior spaces and out into its surroundings. Christopher comments, “the site receives generous eastern light at the rear, however, light from the north was compromised due to the northern neighbour. These voids on either side of a first-floor bridge assist in capturing oblique northern light from the courtyard and the rear.”
The precise fenestration placement within the new addition harnesses natural light, forcing it to penetrate throughout the interior, while promoting passive ventilation. Projecting hoods and external blinds temper solar infiltration. Acoustic reduction measures have been incorporated, not only as an alternative air ventilation and insulation, but to assist in alleviating latent aircraft noise.
At the rear, three protruding “wedges”, which double as a day bed, reading space and outdoor storage, further connect the home to its external environment. “These elements established the geometry of the project and make strong connections to its setting without impacting the neighbouring homes or dominating the garden areas,” Christopher adds.
Through a context-driven approach to form, what was once an ordinary Federation home has now been transformed into a blooming contemporary residence. The heritage face that the original home presents to the world has been respectfully preserved, but this historic façade belies the new addition that brings the home into the present, providing its inhabitants with astute flexibility and significant room for a growing family.