Situated in Sydney’s Kirribilli with a prominent waterfront location and sweeping harbour views, Zuster House was in a prime position. The 100 years old semi-detached brick cottage exuded plenty of character; however when Bijl Architects were approached to renovate the property, they knew they had a challenge. This Federation-era house is located in a heritage conservation area where building-rules apply not only to the main streetscape presentation of the dwellings, but also to the rear resulting in many bland additions over the years. Moreover, the slope of the site limited the indoors/outdoors living opportunities.
Crucial to the brief was a new rear addition that would cater to the flexibility and robustness of family life. The clients asked that the materiality of the house fit with the idea of honouring the past. Hence bricks very quickly became the first choice for the home renovation. PGH Bricks’ dry pressed architectural range in Black Beauty, a dark sophisticated colour, was specified for the entire rear extension; a choice that delivered on several requirements. Charged with the double duty of meeting the strict requirements of the Kirribilli conservation area, while also complementing its semi-detached neighbour Doorzien House, a masonry aesthetic was the ultimate solution. Not only did this allow it to form its own identity and provide continuity with the original dwelling, it also fit the industrial, dark zinc cladding of its neighbour. The Black Beauty colour provides an excellent aesthetic companion to the Anthra Zinc cladding on Doorzien House in terms of colour, smooth surface, and the level of light-reflectivity being comparable.
Moreover, the dry pressed range has a clean, sharp edge that allows the brick units to resonate both at an individual level as the light falls onto their smooth surface, and also as an impressive composition of both uninterrupted walls and columns framing the windows and doors; and looks excellent with the black oxide mortar. As well as embracing brick in the new rear addition, this home renovation celebrated the face bricks of the original dwelling by restoring existing brick arches, details, and general external wall brickwork. This renovation work also exposed the multi-coloured traditional bricks that form the party-wall dividing the two semi-detached properties on the lower ground floor. The idea was to disrupt the bland look of nearby rear additions; and the dramatic Black Beauty brick certainly achieved that, especially in conjunction with the huge new picture windows that take in the view. A clever layout stacks the living spaces on top of one another; and opens up the lower ground floor to forge a connection with the garden. The rear addition, which fuses with the garden, is ideal for modern family living; while the views are no longer tucked away, but are now a prominent feature of the home renovation.
Expert commentary by Melonie Bayl-Smith of Bijl Architecture.
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