This highly textured renovation of a heritage-listed house by PHOOEY Architects, both respects the past and propels it into the present.
The architects were inspired in this project by the surrealist technique of cubomania – the art of making collages by cutting an image into squares and re-arranging them into a new image – and looked to the existing materials to provide the pallet for the new. PHOOEY took photos of the existing rear section of the house, which was to be replaced.
“We cut these photos into cubes and reassembled the images,” explains Young. This determined the design for the façade, and internal details such as joinery and tiled patterns.
The approach is evident in the modular grid of the brickwork of the new extension, where alternating vertical and horizontal stretcher bond segments step in and out in a way that provides texture and depth. The detail is further emphasised by the strategic use of salvaged slate roof tiles.
The reuse of materials is evident throughout. Old window and door steel security screens have been re-invented as beautiful sun and privacy screens, fixed to the rear facade around the new windows. Even the existing bluestone slabs from doorsteps have been reused as fireplace hearths.
Its been a challenge though. “ the builder was extremely supportive of the process,” says the owner, “but the building industry doesn’t naturally allow you to re-use what’s in your house,” Young agrees. “Builders will actually try and talk you out of re-using materials,” she says. “ It’s really important though. The owners bought this house for a reason and it wasn’t just about the location “it’s because they liked the old bits and pieces. There are some things that can’t be salvaged because they fall apart, but if they are beautiful and are intact – why not re-use them?”
“It’s been an interesting experience in the house,” says the owner. “Before we moved in I wasn’t quite sure exactly how the spaces would work. But what has been great is that our experience of the house keeps evolving. We are living here and getting a feel for the house, and it keeps changing.”
“It’s autumn now – the sun is lower in the sky and it’s streaming in through the windows at the back. It’s quite delightful. You plan for it but when you actually see it, it’s magical.”
Palich, P (2013), ‘Cubomania’, Green Magazine, June-July, cover & pp 40-46.