A Modest Midcentury Bungalow Takes on New Life in Sydney
Where others might dismiss the yellow-brick suburban bungalows in Sydney, Australia, as dated eyesores, architect Christopher Polly saw promise. Instead of bulldozing his clients’ 1960s abode in Woolooware, Christopher pursued a renovation—a five-year process that not only preserved the yellow-brick facade, but also helped keep costs down for homeowners Jeremy and Jasmin, who also served as the builders of the project.
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Updating the existing structure was only part of the equation; Christopher also added a contemporary glass-and-metal extension to embrace the outdoors.
Dubbed the "Binary House" after the contrast between the extroverted extension and the more introverted bungalow, the reorganized 1,959-square-foot property places the private areas—three bedrooms and two bathrooms—inside the retained structure, while the communal areas have been moved to the new two-story pavilion.
"The original bungalow allows the cultural value of its suburban type to be preserved within its locality, while also supporting environmental and budget outcomes," explains Christopher, who also inserted vaulted skylights in the original roof to funnel additional natural light indoors.
"A sharply folding intermediary form spatially unlocks a compressed front hall while allowing the location of interstitial courtyards for light, ventilation, and multiple aspects at the center of the plan—in turn, promoting an interplay of private and public rooms across the front and rear zones."
Faced with walls of glass and glazed sliding doors, the open-plan living areas in the rear extension boast an airy atmosphere and a seamless connection to the backyard gardens.
The double-height living room, kitchen, and dining area—as well as the mezzanine sitting room that can be adapted into a guest bedroom—are dressed in honey-hued timber and gray surfaces in a nod to the exterior yellow brick of the original house and the extension’s gray metal siding.
On energy-efficiency considerations, Christopher says: "Glazing expanses harness natural light and promote passive cooling and heating, while external retractable blinds temper direct sunlight when required."
"A northern blade screen and a pinched-in rear profile enable greater solar access onto the generous thermal mass of a concrete wall and ground floor slab, with a cantilevered terrace edge and sculpted step element that can double as seats for enjoyment of the garden."