The brief behind this renovation in Eleebana, New South Wales, was all about transforming the 1970s red-brick home with a series of small changes that could have a big impact.
Curious Practice director and architect Warren Haasnoot says the owner, Aija, presented his team with a modest budget, which encouraged them to develop a strategy around managing the scope of the project, its materials, and the final design. But the result is a beautiful lesson in restraint.
‘We were very much interested in the way tiny architectural interventions could moderate atmosphere within existing housing stock,’ Warren says.
While the home itself had ‘no consideration for siting and orientation’, with low ceilings and a compartmentalised floorplan, the renovation sought to enhance the home’s sense of place by embracing its best feature, the enchanting garden.
They removed the old flat ceiling, exposing the unique roof structure and new timber lining added on top of the rafter created ‘new openings’ for breezes and a connection to the outdoors. Small updates like a window above the new kitchen helped with this as well, capturing the dappled afternoon sunlight. A new bathroom replaced the old, while the front deck overlooking the lake that was falling apart was carefully reinstated.
These cost-friendly changes were also two-fold. Warren notes how designing the existing house to function in a completely new way helped increase the project’s sustainability, reducing the waste of demolishing and rebuilding, in addition to preserving the character of the original architecture.
As the home didn’t need increase in size – only amenity – nothing more than five square metres was added onto the main bedroom. This still managed to be of the most meaningful updates, as Aija notes how the once dark and cold space is now her favourite place to hang out and read, with opening on three sides that give her the best views of the abundant gardens.
A simple blend of timber, dark joinery, and textured tiles anchor interiors amongst the green tones just outside her windows. There’s almost an assuming nature to the design, with Warren adding ‘it isn’t until you stop and look at the building that you notice the accenting features’.
‘There is also a strong sense of refuge from within as many of the interventions reveal themselves through apertures of sunlight and views,’ he says. ‘We see Ajia’s Place as an adaptive example that can be replicated on mass.’