Architect Nic Brunsdon poetically yet accurately describes this East Fremantle home when he says, ‘The most important part of this house is the space that is not built – specifically, a large northern void.’
This new ‘garden room’ is lined with sliding north-facing doors, allowing the space to cleverly spill outdoors and occupy the full width of the site. The remainder of the home’s interiors trace this outdoor space’s edge, facilitating rooms with an immediate connection to the natural elements. ‘The building then becomes secondary and deferential to this,’ Nic says.
Previously a dark period home with ‘60s additions and asbestos sheds at the rear, the home is now arranged as four interconnected sections: the existing brick cottage, an entry link, a ground floor addition, and first floor addition.
‘The entry link acts as a mediating point – the connective tissue between the elements – dark, hard and solemn,’ says Nic.
A new ‘front’ entry point on the property’s south has been established between this element and the restored cottage. On the opposite side is then the central garden room, with a new wooden box perched on top containing the master bedroom.
New sections of the homes are distinguished by a contrasting material palette, ranging from masonry construction in the ground floor addition, and light-framed natural timbers above.
There were many challenges along the way (the original builder going out of business halfway through the project among them; then a hand grenade being found buried in the backyard!) but this successfully completed project shows the power of bringing the outdoors in.
Nic says, ‘The garden – this void of space – gives measurable and appreciable amenity to the project and shows that an understanding of and connection to our celestial sphere can shape the rhythms, patterns, and quality of daily family life.’