Project Feature

A Play on the Existing Vernacular - Twin Peaks by Benn + Penna

Sydney, NSW, Australia

Browyn Marshall

A play on the existing vernacular, Twin Peaks sees a significant extension to a traditional Californian bungalow in Sydney. Andrew Benn of Benn + Penna speaks to the process of conjuring these intriguing forms.

Twin Peaks sees a traditional Californian Bungalow get a new lease on life, through a contemporary extension that speaks to the traditional and celebrated the fundamental residential dwelling form. Built by Newmark Constructions, the addition to the rear of the existing sees an added vertical level, additional bedrooms, bathrooms and most predominantly, a double-heighted living space.

‘The project is conceptually two separate lodges’, states Andrew. ‘One is the children’s realm, and the other is the parents. The bold and exciting form that then developed is inspired by the traditional gable roof form, deliberately separated and clearly demarcated’. Although set back from the original, and in a purposefully contrasting finish, there is a definite stripping back to basics in terms of form.

Twin Peaks by Benn + Penna sees a traditional Californian Bungalow get a new lease on life.

The addition to the rear of the existing sees an added vertical level and double-heighted living space.

When referring to the formal concept drivers Andrew says, ‘the project is a study of architectural scale and contemporary living’. This is evident not only in the execution of the bold formal qualities of the extension, but it also is a play on scale in a more subtle way, from the streetscape. Andrew says that one of the most challenging aspects of achieving the brief was that ‘the suburban lot elongates the proportion of houses and puts these long sides of houses next to one another’.

‘The project is conceptually two separate lodges’.

Expanding on this point Andrew states, ‘how to deliberately control light entering the space (whilst adhering to a council-controlled envelope) and still ensuring internal spaces remain generous enough for contemporary living’. The ‘twin peak’-ed form was therefore the likely result, allowing for deep reveals, an open connection between these two volumes, and the introduction of multiple skylights within each of the spaces.

Andrew says, ‘the project is a study of architectural scale and contemporary living’.

Essentially on a ‘small suburban lot’, the plan (according to Andrew) was ‘to very carefully arrange the spaces internally, to be most efficient’ whilst also allowing for a considered flow from the existing to the new. He says ‘the project (Twin Peaks) takes advantage of high ceilings and voids within the gabled forms to make spaces feel generous’. The vernacular form also takes on a role in the planning, with each ‘peak’ being dedicated to either being either adult or children zones. The materiality used specifically on these augmented lodges also acts to define them formally.

‘The project is a study of architectural scale and contemporary living’.

The integration and celebration of natural light, and its interplay with the materiality was key.

With regard to context and the existing residential landscape Twin Peaks sits amongst, the approach (according to Andrew) ‘was not to mimic the context but make something that was distinctly contemporary with subtle references to the projects surroundings.’ He expands, ‘features like the gable roof form and soft grey hues of the internal palette remind of the projects context’. It’s the reinterpretation of the residential typography, breaking it down, examining it and reconstructing it that adds a playful charm to this addition also.

The vernacular form also takes on a role in the planning, with each ‘peak’ being dedicated to either being either adult or children zones.

The materiality used specifically on these augmented lodges also acts to define them formally.

Utilising timber as the main architectural cladding material was a means to appropriate the concept, and accentuate the formal language. According to Andrew the utilisation of timber throughout was selected ‘for its appropriateness in achieving the project’s conceptual form and space, whilst having the warmth and modesty that the clients were after’.

The interior spaces however take on a more timeless contemporary feel, with a stable palette comprising neutral tones and classic details. The integration and celebration of natural light, and its interplay with the materiality was key, as was all opportunities for passive heating and cooling. Andrew says ‘throughout the house, strategically placed skylight and window openings, together with the double height void space, encourage natural cross ventilation. Together with a large set of louvres across the large void follow the sun (pattern) to precisely control heat gains through light.’

The interior spaces however take on a more timeless contemporary feel.

Andrew says, ‘features like the gable roof form and soft grey hues of the internal palette remind of the projects context’.

A house of contrasts, where the old and the new are celebrated in the one space, Twin Peaks deconstructs the traditional residential form and reconstructs it in a refreshing vernacular. Conscious and considered, maximising and controlling light, Benn  + Penna have conjured a beautiful testament to a contemporary dwelling, that pays a respectful homage to the existing home.

A house of contrasts, where the old and the new are celebrated in the one space, Twin Peaks deconstructs the traditional resdiential form and reconstructs it in a refreshing vernacular.

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