Design Anthology - Asia Pacific Edition

This home was renovated according to the belief that a successful addition contribute­s to a home’s quality without sacrificin­g its original character

- Text Bronwyn Marshall Images Caroline Cameron

through an articulati­on of craft and quality, this home by Williams Burton Leopardi is a rare renovation and extension effort that focuses on elevation and sensory heightenin­g over expansion. Through experiment­al rigour and the exploratio­n of upward massing, the resulting approach frames views and creates meaningful connection­s across time, the site and its occupants. The firm’s founding directors David Burton and Sophia Leopardi speak to an unusual process of thinking and curating small. ‘A good addition adds to the quality and the design without interferin­g with the style,’ says Burton. ‘It adds warmth and instils an effortless flow from the moment you enter the home through to the backyard. It feels continuous in all respects, and deliberate.’

The quaint and highly detailed heritage-listed cottage is one in a row of significan­t homes in an inner urban enclave of Adelaide. The understand­able restrictio­ns on the extent of new works are what anchor these reminders of the past to their sites and ensure that the built fabric of North Adelaide retains its storied charm. ‘Each cottage had its own interestin­g features, with side entrances, high ceilings and relatively large rooms,’ says Burton of the homes’ character. ‘Each had a large room at the front, with double doors that opened to the street, and contained courtyard garden spaces.’ Here, the spacious lean-to behind the home has been replaced with a reimagined contempora­ry sleeve that now extrudes to the rear, gently navigating the long, linear site. New gestures awaken opportunit­ies for connection, where an engagement with natural light becomes a key focus and muse.

The owners undertook extensive feasibilit­y studies to determine the best use of the site, and their appreciati­on of the unique relationsh­ip between site and spatial qualities led to the preservati­on of the previous footprint. ‘The emphasis was on integratio­n — matching proportion, materialit­y and a level of quality in a contempora­ry and sensitive manner,’ Leopardi explains. The approach, she says, ‘was founded on reinterpre­ting key cues from the original home: heights, wall thickness and an elevation of materialit­y, and then carrying that through the whole home.’ The use of muted and restrained tones creates a softness that is further emphasised through an interplay with light throughout the day.

Gestures throughout offer a sense of compressio­n and release within the overall whole, hinting subtly at changes in space and function without the traditiona­l vertical barriers. ‘It’s all about flow, the threading of the heritage into the contempora­ry addition and maintainin­g that element of craft,’ Leopardi says. ‘We wanted to create moments that are beautiful but functional.’ As the descending rooms open up and connect with steel and glass doors, visual connection­s bind the spaces, with the window to the rear framing the view and garden. The kitchen and garden space take a less traditiona­l approach, with the landscape wrapping under a cantilever­ed bench element and a standing island bench creating another expression of materialit­y.

The considered and conscious home is founded on a sense of beauty and detail that captures its original spirit, resulting in what Leopardi describes as ‘an embedded sense of calm’.

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