Sydney, NSW, Australia
Bolt Hole by panovscott is the transformation of an existing compact dwelling of poor amenity on a back lane in the inner east of Sydney.
The lane was originally a service way for the more salubrious dwellings on large blocks fronting the two streets to the north and the south. Over time, and in pockets along the lane, small lots were subdivided off the larger parcels and modest dwellings established, amongst garage and shed structures. These compact dwellings were the original affordable housing in the area and enabled the social mix that made, and continues to make, the area an enlivened cosmopolitan precinct.
The early and cohesive development of the suburb, along with the way in which it has been preserved as a desirable area for inner city living, has resulted in the statutory heritage protection of the precinct. Within that context the dwelling as panovscott found it was a solid but rudimentary cottage, which evidence suggests was constructed in the 1980’s, though on the sandstone foundation of an earlier structure.
The transformation does not increase the size of the existing dwelling. Instead the works concentrate on increasing the amenity of spaces that already exist.
Where the living spaces were previously at the rear of the site, the design team switched their location to the lane frontage; whilst the bedrooms, which were previously on the lane frontage, were relocated to the rear of the site. This had two critical effects, the first being that the internal living spaces could engage more freely with the public domain, enlivening both. And secondly there was an appropriate level of privacy and noise attenuation afforded to the more private sleeping and bathing spaces within the dwelling.
The other key strategic move was to externalize the centre of the dwelling. The original living space in that area was low and dark, with a brown quarry tile floor and anchored by a comparatively large fireplace. The studio’s reaction to the space was visceral. It must fundamentally change. And it did, to become a wonderfully generous sky space, full of light and air, with the chimney now standing tall. This hollowed core enables the inhabitants to live outside as they would inside, capitalizing on the enviable temporal climate we enjoy in Sydney.
The third strategy was to externalize and elongate the entry sequence, also with dual impacts. The first is that the internal planning arrangement becomes more efficient, with more internal space given over to other more intensive uses, in a temporal sense. The second being that the experience of arrival enables the dwelling to be perceived as larger than the physical dimension would otherwise dictate. Essentially the arrangement of the site means that a visitor will walk from the front of the site to almost the rear boundary and then back again to arrive within, at a place immediately adjacent to, but apart from, where they started.
Through Bolt Hole panovscott have attempted to forge a small piece of country in the city. A level of quietude prevails within the spaces and the studio were conscious to bring an experience of the elements close to hand; air, earth, fire, and water. Panovscott have also engendered a way of being in relation to neighbours that is open and engaging, evocative of rural life.
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