In terms of a view, this Northcote property enjoys the best of both worlds. To the rear, is a west-facing aspect over a bush-blanketed valley; to the south the 180-degree vista of the harbour and city skyline is spectacular. Yet the workingman’s cottage that had enjoyed such a privileged position for over a hundred years was no longer putting its best face forward. It had been significantly and un-sensitively altered and an ugly addition in the 70s meant the living zone was a multi-level warren of rooms.
The architectural challenge was to create an expansive family home for a couple with 2 children, while resurrecting the original character of the cottage. The provision of some north-facing outdoor living was an obvious avenue to be explored.
The ungainly addition was removed and rooms within the cottage reconfigured into 4 bedrooms and a playroom. Windows in the south-facing master suite now frame a dynamic landscape of the Harbour Bridge and Sky Tower.
From the street front, an engaging symmetry is celebrated with two sets of French doors that lead off the front bedrooms. The central hallway was reinstated and its palette simplified to create a clean, contemporary look. Floors were polished and a bank of sliders hides ample storage, amenity missing from the original home. They also shut off the playroom to instantly ‘tidy up’ any mayhem.
The concrete-block mass of a three-car garage became a plinth on which to position a new extension that houses an open-plan living, dining and kitchen zone. This relates in form and scale to the existing house. A peaked roofline is an inversion of the gable on the cottage and angles towards the north and west to capture views and sun. Cladding on this block is dark-stained rusticated weatherboard – the yin to the yang of the white weatherboards of the cottage. A batten fence here is a modern interpretation of the turned-wood balusters on the front balcony. A glass-sided passage becomes the link between the two objects.
An internal courtyard was tucked beneath a protected pohutukawa on the northern flank of the property. It sits between the extension and the playroom, a suntrap with glass walls that allows the owners to keep an eye on the kids while preparing meals.
Inside the pared-back living zone, cabinetry runs the length of the northern wall to seamlessly provide storage in the kitchen, shelving for books and art, and a frame for the TV. Clerestory windows admit ample light and a green landscape into the space.
The re-planned cottage and its new-built companion now make the most of a location that overlooks a panorama of bush, harbour and cityscape.