location: East St.Kilda, Victoria, Australia
program: residential - alterations and additions
status: completed
Timber Design Association, National Winner - Best Use of Engineered Timber
Housing Industry Association,
Housing Awards

Kalymna involves alterations and additions to a typical Edwardian style house consisting of exposed red brick and ornate timber work.  Located in a leafy inner city setting, the original house was pleasant, but consisted of a cellular, disconnected configuration of small rooms with minimal storage and small windows, resulting in the house feeling cluttered, difficult to live in and with limited connection to outside.

To address the project brief and capture the qualities of the existing house, rather than simply adding a new room at the back, an integrated approach was taken by adding and removing elements throughout the entire building fabric.  This included changing the function of rooms, improving the connection and practicality of spaces, and providing new spaces.

These new interventions are primarily expressed in timber as it is compatible and complimentary with the materiality of the original house. However the timber is used in a manner that is unmistakably new.  This creates a relationship where old and new are entwined and enmeshed but maintain their own identity.  There is a dialogue between materials that engage and interact with each other while enabling the house to read as a unified whole.  New hoop pine plywood joinery elements are inserted throughout the whole house, including in the kitchen, living room, laundry, bathroom and also window seats.  A new wall to create a study in an existing room is inserted as a large book shelf presenting a plywood paneled wall to the corridor side.

In providing the new extension, previous rear additions to the original house were stripped but the original brick building fabric was retained in place, including what was the old outdoor toilet.  These brick elements were retained in the new extension forming the pantry and parts of the kitchen.  In a complimentary material combination with the old brick walls, treated pine engineered timber beams and columns are assembled in a repeating rhythm of structural portal frames and are the exposed structure of the new extension.  Conceptually these frames stitch themselves into the remaining existing fabric of the original house and provide an integrated connection between old and new.

The frame derives its shape using as a starting point the original profile of the traditional rear skillion roof and this forms the profile of the west boundary wall. This profile recalls a relevant architectural type but has no specific response to the particulars of the site such as its orientation, setting and exposure to sunlight.  To respond to these issues, the frame of the building incrementally raises along the east boundary to open up to the garden to the north.  While only using rectilinear elements, this gesture creates a raking, curved form that is a complementary counterpoint to the pitched roof of the original house.

The timber frame is infilled with a fine envelope of openable, steel framed windows.  In places this glazed envelope steps away from the portal frames meaning the timber members continue from inside to outside.  This allows plants to grow within the frame which while defining a sense of space blurs the interface between inside and out.

While still an integrated part of the overall house this new room is open and full of light and air.  The intersecting timber frames and battens cast shadows creating a dappled, filtered lighting effect.  The open feeling of this room in its garden setting provides a contrast to the enclosed cosier rooms of the original building.  Together they create a house with a range of spaces of varying qualities and atmospheres appropriate for different weather, moods and uses.