Mak­ing a bridge with the past

A new Ja­panese-in­spired de­sign is still sym­pa­thetic to its orig­i­nal pur­pose, writes

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rans­form­ing this weath­er­board cot­tage into a con­tem­po­rary mas­ter­piece was all about mak­ing sure the his­tor­i­cal charm re­mained, while gen­tly push­ing the ar­chi­tec­ture into the mod­ern day.

The turn-of-the-cen­tury home was char­ac­ter­is­tic of Li­ly­field, but it had been al­tered over the years, with ren­o­va­tions car­ried out to meet the needs of who­ever hap­pened to live there at the time.

“It was es­sen­tially an old cot­tage to be­gin with, there were four rooms and a hall­way down the mid­dle,” ex­plains ar­chi­tect Ed Davis of Davis Ar­chi­tects.

“The orig­i­nal cot­tage was ex­panded and ren­o­vated, prob­a­bly in the late ’70s in quite an in­sen­si­tive and un­sat­is­fac­tory way. It was not pretty, but not atyp­i­cal of that era.”

Be­fore work be­gan, the house was stripped back to the orig­i­nal four rooms. The two rooms at the front would re­main bed­rooms, while a study and new bath­room took over the re­main­ing spa­ces.

“There were no struc­tural changes to the old house, aside from the bath­room, which opens up into a court­yard,” Ed says.

“We didn’t want to change the char­ac­ter of it too much.”

Link­ing old and new

Once the old add-ons were re­moved, the new kitchen/liv­ing and din­ing sec­tion was cre­ated, along with a stu­dio out the back.

“We re­moved the old ad­di­tion and ‘stick­y­taped’ the new sec­tion to the back of the house,” says Ed. “We ex­posed an old weath­er­board wall and the orig­i­nal roof pitch of the cot­tage as well, and we left it as it was.”

The old and new sec­tions are sep­a­rated by a 2m glass bridge, which is aligned with the cen­tral hall­way of the old home, with twin Ja­panese-in­spired court­yards on ei­ther side.

“The de­sign con­cept was to strip away the old ren­o­va­tion and al­low sep­a­ra­tion of the zones with a bridge,” says Ed.

“That al­lowed the new sec­tion to have its own char­ac­ter.

“Most im­por­tantly, it al­lows light, air and

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