A Bungalow, Reimagined – Palm Tree House by Madeleine Blanchfield Architects
Vaucluse, NSW, Australia

Photography Dave Wheeler
Words Bronwyn Marshall

The transformation of an original 1920s bungalow home, Palm Tree House sees restraint and containment preserve the home and its history – even as it is opened up to a contemporary dialogue with space. Madeleine Blanchfield Architects’ considered and light-celebrating approach optimises views over Sydney Harbour while continuing the home’s past narrative.

Nestled into Sydney’s Vaucluse, Palm Tree House projects outward, opening to enviable views of the adjacent harbour. Originally designed and built in the 1920s, the home is typical of its era and reminiscent of the bungalow style. In need of restoration, the new works see the reinvigoration of the existing shell and the insertion of more contemporary elements to allow a modern occupation. Amongst the new introductions, maintaining the existing narrative and story was integral. The result is an expanded and repaired home that makes use of its many aspects and is drenched in natural light, embracing its location and the Sydney outdoor lifestyle. Madeleine Blanchfield Architects retains and, in the process, celebrates the existing personality of this heritage gem.

Having been within the one family since its initial build, Palm Tree House is founded on principles of restraint – in its approach, its preservation and how it engages with its site.

Having been within the one family since its initial build, Palm Tree House is founded on principles of restraint – in its approach, its preservation and how it engages with its site. At the centre of the new works, built by Arch Building and Construction, is a spirit of conservation. In response to the surrounding context and the ever-expanding nature of contemporary homes, it retains its original intended proportions and charm, denying the pressure to expand upward and outward. The gesture of remaining contained within similar proportions of the original home is a statement of its own that reveals an uncommon confidence.

By replanning the existing three-bedroom, one-bathroom home and disrupting its formality, the new home emerges as a better suited and expanded dwelling for its family of four. Working with the existing pitched form of the original home, the new extension sits to the rear and contains a shared living, dining and kitchen space, as the main convening and gathering centre of the home. The extension sits as a projection of the original home, behind the silhouette of the original. While the rear opens generously to the landscape and yard, the frontage is given a new breath of life. Painted brickwork, new metal roof sheeting and reinstated timber window details ensure a fresh frontage engages the streetscape, as a symbol of the home’s projected longevity.

Painted brickwork, new metal roof sheeting and reinstated timber window details ensure a fresh frontage engages the streetscape, as a symbol of the home’s projected longevity.

Palm Tree House pays due respect to its origins, while extending its relevance through a contained and appropriate extension. Madeleine Blanchfield Architects proposes an apt contemporary home that beautifully pays homage to its past.

Published 5 June, 2021
Photography  Dave Wheeler
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