Binding Time – Finn Street Project by Ben Walker Architects
As a restoration and preservation of an existing and significant heritage cottage, Finn Street Project sees additional volume created through a shared openness throughout. Ben Walker Architects draws inspiration from the established materiality, reinterpreting the new through a contemporary lens.
After the relocation of the cottage from a former military intelligence base after WW2, Finn Street Project sees a series of alterations and additions come together to enliven and modernise the home. Originally built in the 1950s, the cottage initially resided in its namesake, in Tocumwal in New South Wales. The cottage is one of many that were relocated; however, it remains as one of only few intact in Canberra. The new works ensure a continued relevance is embedded within the heritage home, allowing the existing building fabric to become entrenched into the new. In the form of pavilions, two separate forms are added to the cottage, one as a double level living and sleeping pavilion and the other as a separate multi-use or visitor zone. Ben Walker Architects takes heeded lead from the original palette of the cottage and arranges a new formation of parts across the site.
Together with landscape design by Plot Design Group, Finn Street Project was built by Walmsley Building Solutions, and through a curated approach, the living and the built sit supporting one another. As the new two-storey addition is added to the rear of the cottage, an open and outdoor courtyard space provides access to the elements as an open thoroughfare. The multiple decks and garden spaces become outdoor rooms of their own, both as their own retreats and as open entertaining areas. While the original cottage is restored, the essence of its character and charm remains in place as a reference to its era, and the new then offers an element of balance – neither competing with one another.
The additional pavilion volumes combine isolated internal thermal mass, from recycled Canberra-sourced brick, high performance glazing and operable façade elements to allow for the capture and release of natural heating and cooling across the extremes of the local climate. The new forms are then wrapped in a ribbon formation of timber battens, each aligned vertically as they connect across the site and add a rhythmic quality to the site. While the western edge is protected from unwanted solar gains, openings also allow a connection to landmarks of Canberra, including Black Mountain in the distance. The timber reference is then brought internally, as both flooring underfoot and a ceiling feature above. The steel kitchen then acts as a counter balancing element, sharp and more industrial in its approach. The effects and markings of it having been made by hand are then expressed as a feature and highlighted.