An Exploration in Volume – Dulwich Hill House by Benn and Penna
Dulwich Hill, NSW, Australia

Photography Tom Ferguson & Katherine Lu
Architecture Benn and Penna
Interior Design Benn and Penna
Words Bronwyn Marshall
Dulwich Hill House By Benn And Penna Project Feature The Local Project Image 02

Extending and altering the previous enveloping form, Dulwich Hill House sees Benn and Penna respond to its slight and humble formal inception. Exploring the volumetric qualities of the cottage as a shape within itself, the architects extend the life of this Sydney home through a playful recreation of parts, encouraging natural light inward.

Located in Sydney’s inner west, the home of the same name is sited in Dulwich Hill amongst other remaining remnants of the area’s historical past. As an existing cottage, the task was to alter and renovate what remained and extend the footprint to allow for an expanded and contemporary residence. Through a considered and refined lens, Benn and Penna brings a playful and thoroughly rigorous approach to explore the existing heritage elements and reconfigure the proposed. The result sees the existing cottage used as muse for the new form, which mimics the same proportions and vaulted ceiling and thus creates unique opportunities for natural light to cast distinctive shadows on the sloping internal planes throughout the day. Dulwich Hill House becomes an exploration of the modest cottage volume, bringing together a conversation about the site’s past, present and future.

Intentionally connected and responsive, Benn and Penna has created a home of respectful contextual relevance that beautifully translates its past into a unique and enjoyable present.

Built by Corvus Primesite, the extension of Dulwich Hill House sees the creation of three separate zones, each uniquely defined by the vaulted ceiling conditions that transpire overhead. The connected and open plan living, dining and kitchen zones are defined not by the walls that separate them from the ground plane, as to be expected, but by the tilted elements occurring above. The third vaulted section sits above the study area, with its own unique openings cast into the form. Affectionately referred to as ‘vaults’, at the apex of each sculptural ceiling element is a sharded opening that allows natural light to penetrate the ceiling surface. The similar-shaped hip roof covers the extension, clad in the same terracotta tile blanket and tying the two volumes together on site.

Internally, the volumes are made to feel generous through the extensive use of its light-coloured palette. White paint and plaster are combined with exposed precast concrete elements and softened timber. A similar palette is carried outside to the inbuilt concrete seating and BBQ area and into the surrounding landscape. This transference of materiality allows the inside to feel connected to its outdoor space and to act as an extension of the built envelope.

The connected and open plan living, dining and kitchen zones are defined not by the walls that separate them from the ground plane, as to be expected, but by the tilted elements occurring above.

Dulwich Hill House takes the visitor on a journey through the existing home, with glimpses of the new and landscape beyond from the entry and, as the space unfolds, more contemporary iterations of the original form emerge. Intentionally connected and responsive, Benn and Penna has created a home of respectful contextual relevance that beautifully translates its past into a unique and enjoyable present.

Published 25 November, 2020
Photography  Tom Ferguson & Katherine Lu
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