Weaving architectural heritage with contemporary design and lifestyle is a practice that rewards with surprises and character filled places. In a conservative residential pocket close to North Sydney, a workers cottage perches on top of a hill looking south-east towards striking views of Sydney Harbour. The idea behind the design was to retain the existing character of the cottage to the front – its low slung and strong horizontal lines – and place a more contemporary two storey addition at the back behind the ridge. The new upper level is fully clad with CNC routed plywood shutters, it pierces the ample roof plane to the front of the house with a wide dormer window that is curved at the corners. Internally, the skill of Associate Architect, Sean Johnson and Interior Designer, Romaine Alwill has successfully married the old and the new: polished concrete and the existing dark timber floors, oversized glass sliding windows and the original leadlight sashes. A semi-transparent perforated black steel staircase cascades down through the centre of the house, from an openable skylight in the roof to the ground floor, allowing generous amounts of light to bathe the entrance hall. The young family who own the cottage hoped to be welcomed by their neighbours, but were met instead with dozens of objections to the design, and a tough council process. However, with hard work to convince the community and the vision and support of key Council representatives, the design was approved with some small modifications (the addition of steps to the rear façade and a redesign of the garage door). Today the family can enjoy their views of the Harbour Bridge and have found acceptance in their community.
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Luigi Rosselli Architects used sliding perforated plywood shutters on the addition at the back of the house to create a contemporary look while also letting in light.