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A Casually Confident Beachside Home

Architecture

Until recently, the 1907 house on this South Fremantle site was in a poor condition. Rooms were falling apart, and multiple lean-to additions had been added over the years that needed to go.

David Barr Architects were brought in to bring the property back to life, resulting in a new two-storey brick volume containing the main living areas.

The new extension toes the line between contemporary and classic – ideal for the clients and their casual beach lifestyle.

4th March, 2021

The threshold between the existing house and the extension. Photo – Jack Lovel. Styling – Jo Carmichael

A quiet reading nook. Photo – Jack Lovel. Styling – Jo Carmichael

The main bedroom with a walk-in wardrobe an en suite occupies the entire upper floor. Photo – Jack Lovel. Styling – Jo Carmichael

The key materials are brick and timber, with each used internally and externally. Photo – Jack Lovel. Styling – Jo Carmichael

Throw from local store Bellissimo Bower. Photo – Jack Lovel. Styling – Jo Carmichael

Bathroom details. Photo – Jack Lovel. Styling – Jo Carmichael

The house is now primarily accessed from the side door (through a gate in an existing stone boundary wall). Photo – Jack Lovel. Styling – Jo Carmichael

The new extension takes the form of a two-storey brick volume, with large openings ‘carved’ into the elevation that reveal a softer internal layer of timber. Photo – Jack Lovel. Styling – Jo Carmichael

While not immediately obvious, the extension design was influenced by both the original house, and an adjacent heritage pumping station. Photo – Jack Lovel. Styling – Jo Carmichael

Amelia Barnes
Thursday 4th March 2021

‘It is built to withstand everyday use: beach sand on the floor, spilt food on the benches, and books piled on stairs.’  Stephen Hicks

The owners of this South Fremantle house have a casual beach lifestyle – something that wasn’t previously reflected in their home.

To open up the existing closed and internalised property, the clients engaged David Barr Architects to design a new extension. 

‘The project prioritises a casual architecture that forms a confident background to our clients’ lives,’ explains Stephen Hicks, director of David Barr Architects.  ‘It is built to withstand everyday use: beach sand on the floor, spilt food on the benches, and books piled on stairs.’

The new extension takes the form of a two-storey brick volume, with large openings ‘carved’ into the elevation to reveal a softer, internal layer of timber. Within this new building are new dining and kitchen areas, opening to a ground floor courtyard, with the main bedroom above. 

While not immediately obvious, the extension was influenced by both the original home’s architecture, and an adjacent heritage pumping station. ‘Both are simple, masonry buildings that feature interesting detailing around their windows and openings,’ says Stephen. An equally influential reference was Donald Judd’s minimalist concrete artworks, which are somewhat mirrored in the extension form. 

At the client’s request, the original house was only lightly touched (with only walls repaired and painted where required) to respect the existing streetscape.

Despite being a solid brick building, the overall house is now open and expansive, with windows and views in all directions. ‘The house suggests that private spaces can still be well connected to their street and suburb,’ says Stephen. 

The work of David Barr Architects has changed how this house appears, but more importantly, how it functions. As Stephen says, ‘The addition has better connected the owners to the weather, the natural world, their street, and their community.’

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