HINDSIGHT: NATURE’S COURSE
A humble heritage home is given a breathtaking modern extension to celebrate the majestic jacaranda tree that existed long before it did
TO TELL THE FULL STORY OF THE “JAC” HOUSE, you need to go back to a time when the house itself didn’t exist. Long before it became home to a federation-era, four-room cottage, the site in an inner western suburb of Sydney belonged to the Gelding Brothers Victorian Nursery, and during this time, a young jacaranda tree was planted. Fastforward 117 years to the redeveloped block with its compact cottage, and it was this tree that inspired the home’s magical transformation. Anita Panov and Andrew Scott from Panovscott Architects were engaged by the homeowners to design an extension that would give them greater access to the environment around them, allowing them to enjoy the changing seasons and landscaped gardens to full effect. “We spoke about the things we normally would in a first meeting as we walked around the house,” Andrew recalls. “We then arrived at the back door, and there before us was the most astounding jacaranda tree we had ever seen in an urban context.” Then and there, he and Anita decided to approach the project as if they were working between two existing structures – the cottage itself and the grand old jac. Retaining many of the home’s original features, they added a modern stacked extension to the rear, with a band of concrete marking the transition between the two. Several glass windows, huge in scale, were incorporated to allow natural light to flood in while providing a delightful view of the 12-metre tall tree.
BLENDING OLD WITH NEW
Built in 1917, the cottage was in great condition. As such, the front rooms remain untouched, with the ornamental ceilings, picture rails and exposed pine floors preserved. Then, as you walk down the hallway towards the new extension, a band of polished concrete leads to the open-plan living/kitchen/ dining space with its garden views. “This moment is designed to be jawdropping, a dynamic spatial moment which celebrates the experience of homecoming,” Andrew says.
MERGING INDOORS AND OUT
With the “outward-looking” brief well and truly met, the clients also requested some “inward looking” capabilities. “We talked a lot about how the transformed house would need to be generous enough to allow them to be at one moment comfortably alone, and at others, able to host large gatherings of friends, which they clearly enjoyed,” Anita tells. The solution? A series of doors that slide into concealed wall pockets so the homeowners can open up or close off rooms as they choose.
IMPORTANT ECO ASPECTS
Of course, a modern transformation of a historic home requires a degree of sustainability and environmental awareness. Panovscott retained and reused bricks and pine floorboards from the cottage in the new courtyard wall and hall extension respectively, while energy-efficient hydronic heating lies within the concrete slab. Ventilation hatches in the upper level’s glass panels are another natural heating/cooling feature, allowing hot air to escape while drawing cool air from below.
DESIGN TIP A VERTICAL VOID HEIGHTENS THE FEELING OF ELEVATION AND LETS IN PLENTY OF NATURAL LIGHT
Hidden details For this home’s exterior, spotted gum timber cladding was chosen for its durability, its subtle imperfections and nuances and the fact that it grows not far away in the region’s coastal forests.
Rise and shine The upstairs rooms – accessed by a narrow blackbutt timber staircase, as demonstrated by the architects’ son – are a private oasis, filled with ample daylight.
Hanging out Two AIM pendants from Euroluce diffuse and direct light over the dining table. Kitchen specifics Honed Calacatta marble benchtops sing against the veneer-faced joinery.