A place of Reflection and Respite – Courtyard House by Renato D’Ettorre Architects
Sydney, NSW, Australia

Photography Simone Bossi
Words Jackson Hides

Responding to a brief that required increased floor space for a family of five, Courtyard House by Renato D’Ettorre Architects sees a modest 1940s cottage transformed into a confident, modern and comfortable family home.

Considerable thought was given to how the floorplan would achieve this increased space. Rejecting the common design solution of adding a second storey to a post-war cottage, the architects instead resolved to ground the renovated home around a central courtyard, seamlessly connecting new and existing, whilst providing essential functions to this family home. Housing a single olive tree and scented climbing vines on the side of the adjoining boundary fence, the courtyard excels in its ability to provide a place of quiet contemplation, and at the same time function as a source of tremendous natural light and internalised introspection.

The generously sized link borders the courtyard. When the sliding aluminium framed glass doors are opened, it also contributes handy additional entertainment space.

At the rear of the old cottage, a new main bedroom has been afforded walk-in-robes and an ensuite, and a children’s living area has also been added. Both are provided direct access to the central courtyard, reinforcing its ability to provide a sense of extra space. Three further existing bedrooms from the old cottage were retained and refurbished in their original locations, while a new, larger bathroom was installed on the same site as the previous one. An open study was a further addition, creating a new, generously-sized link that borders the courtyard and connects old and new, handily contributing additional entertainment space when called upon.

Considerable thought was given to how the floorplan would achieve this increased space.

The new elements of the house are provided courtesy of a rear extension consisting of a living room, dining room, a galley kitchen with direct access to the laundry, and a double garage. Due to the site orientation and the location of the garage, a further challenge that required consideration was the lack of winter sun light these new spaces could access. The solution was to raise a portion of the roof to slope sharply to the north, creating a clerestory window that not only alleviates any concerns about a lack of winter sun, but provides an airy nod to mid-century Scandinavian interiors.

The clerestory windows in the living room are crucial for adding sun light to the newly renovated spaces in winter.

Factoring in a lean budget, materials were chosen for their ability to reduce unnecessary trades. A polished concrete floor is used throughout the extension, while reclaimed bricks and vertical timber cladding were painted white to match the colour of the existing house. Floor-to-ceiling aluminium framed sliding glass doors border three sides of the courtyard, with the fourth occupied by a vine covered metal mesh screen. The end result sees simple forms achieved through the rejection of useless theoretical abundance, creating a home that not only increases the floor space, but does so whilst providing sanctuary and calm to its inhabitants.

Courtyard House by Renato D’Ettorre Architects sees a modest 1940s cottage transformed into a confident, modern and comfortable family home.

Published 10 May, 2020
Photography  Simone Bossi
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