This website uses cookies to improve your experience navigating our site. By continuing to browse, you are agreeing to our use of cookies.

OK, I understand

The Extraordinary Exoskeleton House

Architecture

This afternoon, Takt Architects takes us through their bold renovation of a humble bungalow.

Just south of Sydney, in former timber milling country, this striking and sustainable update is imbued with rich history and connection to place.

10th September, 2019

The Exoskeleton House. Photo – Shantanu Starick.

A renovation project by Takt Architects. Photo – Shantanu Starick.

The wooden bungalow was built in the 1950s. Photo – Shantanu Starick.

Today it has been enveloped in a steel architectural shelter. Photo – Tim Shaw.

Adaptation and reuse of materials were paramount to the project. Photo – Tim Shaw.

In summer, cooling easterly breezes are shepherded into the home with high open ceilings. Photo – Shantanu Starick.

The residence is bright and airy. Photo – Shantanu Starick.

This home began life as a 1950s brick bungalow in Thirroul. The town sits below the Illawarra escarpment south of Sydney in NSW, where many small timber cottage and brick bungalows were constructed to accommodate timber cutters, coal miners, and steel-workers. Brent Dunn and Katharina Hendel of Takt Architects explain ‘the imposing landscape was dotted with small timber cottages and bungalows built from surplus materials, from both the steel mills further south and local brick works.’

The duo embarked on this renovation, inspired by a desire to ‘set an example for sustainable development that keeps place with changing ways of living’, while remaining sensitive to its location, and the local qualities of place. The architects highlight how their approach of adaptive re-use aimed to sensitively respect the humble cottages and bungalows in the area (which is undergoing massive population changes), while ensuring the home is designed to meet the needs of today’s inhabitants.

Brent and Katharina describe the design process as one of addition, where they introduce ‘only the missing pieces in the puzzle’ and nothing more. A steel exoskeleton provides an architectural shelter, under which a new living pavilion is introduced using raw steel, recycled timber and site-formed concrete. This additional family space opens up the home, and connects to the garden – resulting in an incredibly striking architectural synthesis of a 1950s home, protected within a 2010s insect-like frame!

The renovation is also informed by principles of sustainability, in both adapting rather than demolishing and rebuilding, and in employing thermal design principles. In summer, the cooling north-easterly breezes are shepherded into the home via the sloping roof and internal high open ceilings. In winter, the architects describe a cosy scene where ‘sun-drenched concrete floors and the fireplace transform the experience of cold weather and early sunsets.’ The architects also highlight that the decision to adapt the existing house, rather than build from scratch, meant financial savings – and as a result, the clients were able to focus more on quality craftsmanship.

Brent and Katharina emphasise the role of their client in trusting them throughout this ambitious project, as well as the creative and respectful team of makers they enlisted to bring the exoskeleton to life!

View Comments

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Rugged Coastal Home By Kennedy Nolan

A pinwheel-shaped layout shelters this coastal home in Victoria from the harsh elements.
Amelia Barnes

Creative People

Austinmer And Thirroul With Dominique Brammah

The interior designer gives us tour of the stunning coastline and some of her favourite spots in the northern Illawarra region of New South
Dominique Brammah

Architecture

A Forever Home That Celebrates The Past

Renovating for longevity in Rose Bay, Sydney with Ricci Bloch Architecture and Interiors.
Miriam McGarry

This Week

1.50

One Room Wonders

A Contemporary Chic Bedroom Makeover

A gorgeous, achievable room transformation - in partnership with Surround by Laminex.

Shopping

Nau Releases 2021 Australian-Made Furniture Collection

Cult’s in-house Australian-made furniture and lighting brand, Nau, releases it 2021 collection designed by Adam Goodrum, Kate Stokes, Adam...

On The Market

An Iconic Melbourne Art Family’s Richmond Home Is For Sale

The family of beloved artist Mirka Mora are selling their contemporary, multi-level home, featuring a pool-with-a-view!

Studio Visit

Inside The Fremantle Studio Of Legendary Ceramicist, Pippin Drysdale

For a new exhibition at Linton + Kay, the 85-year-old ceramic artist has shifted her focus from vast desert landscapes to the minutiae of th...
Sasha Gattermayr
  4 hours ago

News

An Online Fundraiser Featuring Work By 100+ Local Artists!

The annual B-Side art sale by artist-run, not-for-profit gallery Blindside is back to raise money for the arts community, this year featurin...
Sasha Aarons

TDF Design Awards

ANNOUNCING The Winners Of The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021!

Last night we announced the winners and commended projects in the TDF + Laminex 2021 Design Awards in our online awards ceremony! Drum roll

Homes

A Photographer + Art Director’s Alistair Knox Home

Photographer Sean Fennessy, and art director Jessica Lillico's heart-warming Warrandyte mid-century family home, designed by Alistair Knox!

Studio Visit

P0LY Designs : The Ultimate Pandemic Pivot Project

How Lara Fisher and Andy Kepitis turned their lockdown hobby into full-time business!

On The Market

A Santorini-Style Oasis (And One Of Our Fave Ever Homes) Is On The Market!

Artist Phoebe Rolleston’s architect-designed, breezy family home in Glen Iris, Melbourne is for sale. And we are so jealous of the new own...

A Longer Read

Design-Led Aboriginal Entrepreneurship Is Not New

Jirra Lulla Harvey - Koorie woman, First Nations business strategist, and judge of the TDF + Laminex Design Awards Collaboration category ...
Jirra Lulla Harvey

Shopping

An Epic Collaboration Between Two Local Icons, David Bromley + Review!

David Bromley collaborates with much loved local fashion label Review on a colourful new collection of apparel and accessories.

Creative People

Building A Family Legacy On Local Manufacturing, With Abode Living

Creative director Amelia Marasco Adair takes us on a tour of the company's Camberwell HQ - featuring their production warehouse, offices +
44:00

Podcast

The Unconventional Career Path Of Interior Designer Yasmine Ghoniem Of YSG Studio, On TDF Talks

In this podcast conversation, host Lucy Feagins talks to the founder of YSG Studio and so-hot-right-now visionary leading the Australian int...

News

A Glamorous New Range Of Matte + Metallic Mixers

New additions to Phoenix Tapware’s popular Designer Sink Mixers collection will complement every element in your home.
Sponsored

Architecture

A Remarkable Reworking Of A Humble Gold Coast Shack

ME Architects have extraordinarily reworked and extended this humble 1970s Gold Coast home.

Similar Stories

Architecture

A Rugged Coastal Home By Kennedy Nolan

A pinwheel-shaped layout shelters this coastal home from the elements.
Amelia Barnes

Creative People

Austinmer And Thirroul With Dominique Brammah

The interior designer gives us tour of the stunning coastline and some of her favourite spots in the northern Illawarra region of New South
Dominique Brammah

Architecture

A Forever Home That Celebrates The Past

Renovating for longevity in Rose Bay, Sydney with Ricci Bloch Architecture and Interiors.
Miriam McGarry

The Design Files acknowledge the traditional custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files – we would love to hear from you.

Please email us here.