Black Hill, VIC, Australia
Black Hill is a suburb of Ballarat, made up of detached single residences on small blocks. Most of the homes were constructed in the inter-war period, and the streetscapes remain largely consistent and intact for the period. As the area gentrifies, contemporary additions and renovation work is being widely undertaken, and some original homes are being demolished for new builds. There are no heritage protections for this area, as the city chooses to focus primarily on its Victoria-era architectural heritage. The site is on the south side of the street and the original house was designed with it’s main living space facing on to the front yard. With increased traffic in the area and clients who prefer a more private living space, the clients and I decided to transform the existing living space (kitchen, laundry, dining room) into the main bedroom, ensuite and walk in robe. A new living space was then added to the rear of the house that could engage with the private rear yard. The new addition is connected to the original house via a narrow linkway space, which allowed us to retains the integrity of the existing roof form. Each space was designed from the inside out – focusing primarily on the day-to-day experience of the interior. The clients wanted a lifestyle where they could cook, eat, and relax with a direct visual connection to the backyard outdoor entertaining/barbeque space. The new addition is aligned with the hallway of the existing house, so that you can see down the existing hallway, past a study nook integrated into the wall of the hallway, through the extension, and straight on to the backyard.
The linkway space also steps down to allow the new extension to sit closer to the backyard’s natural ground level. We were interested in expanding on the rich dark-stained timber features of the existing house and turned to an old architectural favourite – In Praise of Shadows. Jun’ichirō Tanizaki’s essay on aesthetics talks about an appreciation of the quality of shadow, the contrast of light and dark, and how low sheen materials create subtlety and texture in an interior environment. We limited the material palette to concrete, timber, cement sheet, bagged brick, and painted steel. The preference was for textured, matte materials over anything too shiny. Overall, the palette feels calming and warm. In addition to the basic sustainability measures (high levels of insulation, insulated glazing, low-energy lighting, detailing to eliminate thermal bridging, etc), we felt that access to north light was particularly important in a building that faces the south. By separating the new works and setting them back from the original building with a linkway, we created two small courtyards that improved light and ventilation access. The double-height space above the kitchen is also designed as a sort of ‘light scoop’ that pops up above the existing building’s roofline to draw in north light for the kitchen space. This space enjoys excellent natural light access all year round and was important to the client’s brief to incorporate a space for hanging indoor plants.