A Modest Midcentury Bungalow Takes on New Life in Sydney

A Modest Midcentury Bungalow Takes on New Life in Sydney

By Lucy Wang
Completed over the span of five years, a Sydney home sports a refashioned rear that’s delightfully different from the original '60s structure.

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. 

The rear pavilion conceived as an expansive new-build has been sensitively connected to the front of the original dwelling.

Updating the existing structure was only part of the equation; Christopher also added a contemporary glass-and-metal extension to embrace the outdoors.

Wall, roof, and floor planes extend the envelope at the rear to form a covered terrace, which also improves privacy from adjacent neighbors and strengthens connection to the home's external environment.

A look at the  interface between old and new through the original yellow-brick dwelling.

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. 

A look at the main bedroom located at the front of the original dwelling's footprint.

Here is the main bathroom located at the rear of the original dwelling's footprint. This area boasts an acrylic render finish to the walls, as well as a vaulted skylight that has been carved within the original roof.

"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.

The reformed rear of the original dwelling as backdrop. With interstitial garden courts on either side offering light and ventilation at the centre, this space also encourages spatial interplay of public and private rooms.

"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."

The northern courtyard provides a secondary entry, as well as an outdoor shower.

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. 

A look at the interior-to-exterior connections across a concrete terrace to the landscaped rear.

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.

A look at the living areas with two smaller rooms crafted at one end of the pavilion volume—a ground-level kitchen and an upper-floor sitting room, which can be easily adapted as a bedroom and/or study.

A volumetrically expansive double-height living area serves as a generously proportioned "garden room," capturing vast sky and landscape views.

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 peek at the northern interior-to-exterior connections via a covered terrace with its cantilevered edge and sculpted step element, doubling as seats for enjoyment of the garden.

An opaque southern face mitigates significant overlooking from adjacent neighbors, while enabling a singular "shed" expression aligned to the home's coastal bush-like landscape.

"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."

Here, you can see the spatial interplay of private and public rooms across the plan from the main bathroom through the pavilion to the landscaped setting beyond.

A binary play of considered honey and gray tones strongly reference the exterior yellow brick and gray metal of the two distinct structures.

Project Credits: 

Architect of Record: Christopher Polly Architect / @christopherpollyarchitect

Builder: Owners

Structural Engineer: SDA Structures

Hydraulic Consultant: ACOR Consultants

Landscape Design Company: Fig Landscapes

Surveyor: Junek & Junek

Interior Design: Christopher Polly Architect

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