The owner of this interwar bungalow in Sydney’s North Shore came to Alexander &CO with a request for her home ‘to be designed to be an interesting world.’
The designers rose to the challenge, restoring the street-facing facade before a hidden, sculptural annexe at the rear.
In identifying their direction for this project, Alexander &CO noted the work of Queensland architects Vokes and Peters as a source of inspiration.
‘Vokes and Peters have such a beautiful “Australian” style… They were noteworthy as a reference for this home, as they have seemingly redefined the traditional Queenslander as both a home of practical environmental utility, but also as architecture which is delightful in its playfulness and idiosyncrasy,’ says Jeremy Bull, principal and founder of Alexander &CO.
The design also references the late modernist work of Estonian-born American architect Louis Kahn – a constant source of inspiration for Alexander &CO.
‘Louis Kahn continues to be a modernist reference for our practice as [his work] defies being reductionist, but seems to traverse the space of material richness and restraint just right,’ says Jeremy. ‘We wanted this home to feel critically regional, contemporary and not reductionist. We wanted the home to feel like a suburban homage.’
In response, the original rooms of the home have been redesigned to accommodate two bedrooms, a study, sitting room, bathroom, powder room and laundry.
The sculptural new addition follows, containing the open-plan living domain on the ground floor, with a sanctuary-like level above including an infrared sauna, main bedroom and steam shower bathroom. All new works are concealed within the ‘shadow’ of the existing house’s roof form in line with heritage requirements.
Fusing the upper and lower storeys together is a Lê Corbusier inspired ‘chimney’ that acts as both a shading and structural device. Another key feature of the extension is the floor-to-ceiling sliding steel glass doors framing the landscaped garden beyond.
Influences of Kahn are again showcased in the restrained material palette comprising monochromatic greys, honed grey marble, black steel, spotted gum, stained oak, and pine. Lighting pieces by Apparatus and Henry Wilson, as well as furniture from Spence & Lyda, Cult Design and Great Dane, also contribute to the mid-century inspired, contemporary Australian direction.
‘I think if the project’s intention was a suburban home of quality and an aim to unify interwar and the future, I believe it has succeeded,’ says Jeremy.
‘Perhaps we have a way to go to achieve what Vokes and Peters do so consistently, but I believe the home is beautiful.’