Architect: Kerry McGrath
Completed in June 2014, taking 10 months.
Originally built in 1907, this compact inner city terrace in Alexandria has had a long and colourful life and has remained relatively untouched from its original form, with only some minor 1970’s modifications to the bathroom, kitchen and attic. The client engaged Kerry McGrath Architect to design the home and Genuine Building Services to build it after watching Genuine Building renovate two similar homes locally.
The brief was to leave the front of the house as an original single storey terrace which matched the existing streetscape whilst adding on a modern open plan rear addition that remained unseen from the street. The original front two rooms and hallway would remain in their existing position, with the front bedroom staying as a bedroom and the second bedroom being converted into a sitting room/second living room that looked onto an internal courtyard. From the back of the existing second bedroom the old skillion roof section was to be demolished and a new open plan living, kitchen and internal courtyard created with three bedrooms and two bathrooms added upstairs.
• The original floorboards and support structure had rotted beyond repair due to white ants and damp. At the suggestion of Genuine Building, a sub-floor ventilation system was installed to prevent any further damp issues and the floor support system was reinstated with new Blackbutt flooring laid in the original front section of the house.
• Polished concrete made with black basalt stone was used in the new open plan section of the house.
• All of the original rendered ceilings and walls in the original section of the house were beyond repair and needed to be replaced.
• The design required high quality plasterwork, as there were no cornices or protruding skirting boards as shadow lines were used extensively throughout.
• Joinery was used along one wall of the sitting room to provide a place to store the client’s extensive book collection and the client can now enjoy reading whilst enjoying the natural light that streams through the window from the inside courtyard. In the colder months, the inside courtyard can be used as a winter deck.
• The rear of the house has external cladding which is a mix of Shadowclad and standing seam zinc sheeting.
• Storage has been included along one wall of the outside courtyard to allow storage of garden items and a small laundry which is tucked away in a cupboard. This ensures all space in the outside courtyard is maximised, allowing for a small patch of grass and pavers.
• Initially the second story bridge balustrade was designed to be a steel balustrade with stainless steel wires that had concealed fixings below the floor. On installation this was not quite what the client wanted, so everyone worked together and using examples from magazines that the client had found adapted the design to include a frameless glass balustrade that rises from the floor with all the fixings concealed in the floor. This creates the illusion that the bridge and veneer are one piece and not separate pieces joined together.
• The client was unsure of the exact type of finish he wanted in the polished concrete. Genuine Building Services allowed him to be involved in the process through multiple site visits so that he could monitor the exact depth of grinding and achieve the exact look he was after. The client achieved the look he was after and was very appreciative of this approach.
• This was a small inner city site and Genuine Building Services had to work very closely with the immediate neighbours as the carpenters needed access to and to erect scaffolding on the neighbouring properties to carry out some of the construction works.
• Having such a compact site also created issues with the maximum number of staff and trades that could be on site at the one time. Genuine Building Services overcame this issue by micromanaging the job so as to avoid any cross over in trades.
• Having limited space meant awkward and odd spaces in the build, so these spaces were all transformed into storage spaces. One of the most innovative uses of storage space is the hidden bathroom that sits inside joinery under the staircase.
There is now an abundance of natural light in the home and the use of external louvres on this house enables this to be blocked out whilst still being stylish and allowing a wonderful array of shadows to fall upon the walls and floor as the sun moves across the sky during the day.
This house is now a haven of peace and tranquillity for those that enter. There is an abundance of sharp lines and high ceilings, which draws your eyes upwards to take in the clever design above. This project consisted of very detailed work which is obvious as soon as you step inside the house.
The house is very clean and uncluttered visually, with a clever mix of timber, steel and glass throughout both levels. The design makes use of every possible space for storage, and the abundance of natural light makes rooms feel spacious. Clever use of materials in the house means that the house is environmentally friendly whilst being visually appealing.