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A Generous, Light-Filled Addition To A Heritage Home

Architecture

Fusing old and new forms is probably the most common challenge facing contemporary residential architecture, especially when the desire is to retain as much of a heritage design as possible.

Studio Prineas were recently engaged to reinvigorate a traditional Federation-era home in Kensington (6 kilometres south-east of Sydney’s CBD) for a young family. With slick contemporary interventions and an emphasis on Australian designers and makers, the Cnr Virginia project creates a masterful dialogue between old and new.

28th October, 2020

The Cnr Virginis project by Studio Prineas. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The rear living room overlooks the pool and a garden brimming with native vegetation. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The communal spaces in the rear extension occupy a sunken level, meaning they can take advantage of the double height ceiling. Photo – Chris Warnes.

Extensive glazing fills the contemporary space with light and views. Photo – Chris Warnes.

A Koskela Quadrant sofa in the living room. Painting by Kasper Raglus. Photo – Chris Warnes.

Recycled red brick and blackened timber define the contemporary attitude of the extension. Photo – Chris Warnes.

From one side of the room to the other: looking through the living room to the rear pool from the internal courtyard. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The native garden was designed by Custom Creations Landscapes. Photo – Chris Warnes.

Australian blackbutt timber was used to create the decking. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The open-plan extension encompasses the main lounge, dining room and kitchen. Painting by Kasper Raglus. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The kitchen is clad in black Paperock: a construction material made of compressed layers of paper fused with resin. Photo – Chris Warnes.

White walls, grey marble and black Paperock constitute the extension’s minimalist palette. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The second lounge is located in the restored heritage home, which constitutes the first section of the house. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The heritage features of the original house were retained, including the floorboards. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The main ensuite upstairs continues this slick, contemporary palette. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The main bedroom and ensuite occupy the second storey. Painting by Kasper Raglus.. Photo – Chris Warnes.

‘In preserving the historic bones of the home, crisp white walls draw focus to era-defining hallmarks, including mellow timber flooring, ornate pressed-tin ceilings and cast-iron fireplaces,’ says Eva-Marie Prineas. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The bathroom at the front of the house. Photo – Chris Warnes.

The second storey is invisible from the street front. Photo – Chris Warnes.

Though invisible from the front, the second storey makes a statement from the rear. Photo – Chris Warnes.

Sasha Gattermayr
Wednesday 28th October 2020

‘Thankfully, very few of the its original heritage features had been lost over the years.’ – Eva-Marie Prineas

The Cnr Virginia project by Studio Prineas is a modern family home comprising two discrete bodies: an original heritage facade and sleek contemporary addition at the rear. These zones are connected by a glass linkway and yet kept separate by a distinctly different materials palette in each section.

‘Thankfully, very few of the its original heritage features had been lost over the years, however they were in need of some love,’ explains principal architect, Eva-Marie Prineas, of the restoration task she and her team faced, alongside the design of the contemporary extension. ‘In preserving the historic bones of the home, crisp white walls draw focus to era-defining hallmarks, including mellow timber flooring, ornate pressed-tin ceilings and cast-iron fireplaces,’ she says.

Externally, efforts were made to restore the character-filled facade with as much fidelity to the existing design as possible, down to the roofline which was kept to its original silhouette. Inside, a set of sunken steps acts as the threshold between the two sections, lowering the floor level of the rear extension and allowing for a second storey to be added within the outline of the heritage frontage. This additional level contains the main bedroom and ensuite and remains concealed from the street.

While restored heritage fixtures dominate the cosmetic character of the home’s entry section, Eva-Marie and her team opted for a more minimalist palette when designing the open-plan extension. Blackened timber and grey marble lend a cool, contemporary mood to the communal living zones, while recycled, exposed red brick sourced from a brickyard in neighbouring Alexandria adds a textural statement. The kitchen is clad in black Paperock: a construction material made of compressed layers of paper fused with resin, while pieces from local design designer Koskela furnish the living room.

Perfectly framed garden vistas are interspersed throughout the light-filled extension due to clever glazing interventions. A skylight attracts natural light along the boundary line while operable louvres open out onto the courtyard pool and backyard, which was filled with native vegetation by Custom Creations Landscapes.

The Cnr Virginia project is a perfectly integrated architectural design which amplifies the volume and scale of a space, while still retaining an intimate energy throughout.

See more projects by Studio Prineas here.

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