A New Purpose – Drill Hall House by Tobias Partners
Inner-West Sydney, NSW, Australia

Photography Justin Alexander
Words Bronwyn Marshall

Adapting and restoring an existing 1905 former Army drill hall, Drill Hall House sees the transformation of a previous renovation into a contemporary open home. Tobias Partners responds with a contextual sensitivity, expressed through the resulting materiality and spatial planning.

Located in Sydney’s Inner-West, Drill Hall House sees the adaptation and restoration of an existing Army drill hall and its ill-fitting previous inherited renovation. Through appropriation and careful study of its comprising parts, Tobias Partners transforms the space into an open-planned modern arrangement. Expressing materiality and referencing the original period features and nuanced details, together with an understanding of the client’s planning needs, the new home is proposed as an open and connected series of spaces.

The current owners inherited the roughly renovated 1980s home, and so the architects’ contemporary approach centred around restoring and reconstructing with minimal intervention to the original shell, with special interest in expressing these nuances.

Built by Alvaro Bros, with landscaping by landscape architects Secret Gardens, Drill Hall House references its original material palette and geometries as inspiration for the new works. At the core of the interventions is a sense of cohesion added to the spaces, carefully binding its otherwise disparate parts into a functional home. Creating areas of passive retreat, together with open and more active areas was key. The current owners inherited the roughly renovated 1980s home, and so the architects’ contemporary approach centred around restoring and reconstructing with minimal intervention to the original shell, with special interest in expressing these nuances.

These comprising parts all come together and create the unique and original open interior form, allowing for the functions of the home and residential typology to be contained within them.

Restoration of the front façade, together with the sides of the original brickwork, the slate roof, steel roof truss structures and interior roof form were the main focus. These comprising parts all come together and create the unique and original open interior form, allowing for the functions of the home and residential typology to be contained within them. As an expression of this original form, it was imperative to restore these original features. The large arched brick entryways at street level with their own timber doors opening into the main hall become a key focus that marks the transition to the connected living, dining and kitchen areas. On the opposite side of this main hall, within the previous roofline, are two new loft structures that house a study and guest area.

Through a connection to its landscape as an extension of these interior spaces, this home is about openness.

Through a connection to its landscape as an extension of these interior spaces, this home is about openness. Tobias Partners has taken careful study of its original key period features and celebrates their restoration in the new works through revealing the craft inherent in their making. Drill Hall House is a connected home, imbued within its own important and storied architectural history, and the new works allow a contemporary reuse of the shell to become a well-fitting and character-rich home.

Expressing materiality and referencing the original period features and nuanced details.

Published 23 January, 2020
Photography  Justin Alexander
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