The main objective of this heritage house renovation by Ben Callery Architects was to design a ‘compact’ addition to an existing cottage, using all timber, to ensure a small footprint, both physically and environmentally.
The existing house was a heritage protected, double-fronted weatherboard cottage. ‘It was not ornate — very austere,’ says Ben Callery, director at Ben Callery Architects. ‘The front was in poor condition and it needed new windows, new weatherboards, new insulation, new flooring, new plaster, rewiring, a new verandah — the works!’
At the back of the house was a poorly-designed lean-to, that raked downwards towards the rear. ‘So there was no view of the sky from within, no sun and you were disconnected from the elements and the energy they provide,’ explains Ben.
The lean-to needed to go, but the owners (a couple who are engineers and project managers) desired efficient new spaces — both in construction and operation.
In response, the architects designed a new L-shaped, 77 square metre addition encompassing a new bedroom with an en suite, study, bathroom, European laundry, and an open-plan living, meals, kitchen area.
The addition utilises an all-timber structure including a king post truss that spans 7.3 metres, and allows perpendicular sliding doors to open. ‘The truss is the really unique element of this project, spanning the full width of the building and creating this great opening, with an engineered solution handmade from natural materials,’ says Ben.
‘We engaged a specific structural engineer who specialises in designing timber structures rather than steel, and the builders made it themselves… To have one element that expresses this ideal of using a lower embodied energy approach, while still achieving a great outcome, is really beautiful.’
The pitched roof speaks to the proportions of the original house, while providing a sense of volume and space greater than its modest footprint (107 square metres on a 278 square metre site) suggests.
Green accents across painted surfaces, soft furnishings, and landscaping by Straw Brothers tie the entire home together.
Outside, a new deck serves as an extension of the living area, under a pergola ready to be engulfed in deciduous vines.
In the original house, the front two rooms and entry hall have been retained, as dictated by the heritage planning requirements. The facade has also been restored with a new porch and timber beams.
With its clever use of space, and airy new extension that spills out onto the back deck, this home now makes the most of it compact size, whilst maximising as much back yard as possible. The result is a warmer, brighter, more functional and efficient home – with a small footprint, in more ways than one.