Dulwich Hill House

Context & Design Brief

The existing house is a semi detached Federation dwelling in Dulwich Hill in a good suburban street. The existing house had some intact Federation features but the rear of the house was divided into several small services rooms with no direct connection the back yard. A rear lane was available for access to the property.

The brief was to completely renovate the house and extend it for a family of 4 for a budget of less than $200,000. Being a semidetached dwelling It was important to retain the appearance of the pair of dwellings as a single house to satisfy general heritage considerations and Council. A secure double carport was requested from the rear to garage a car and boat.

Design Approach

The key to unlocking the strategy was in putting the new stair within the existing inferior second bedroom close to the front of the house while locating the new first floor additions close to the rear. The area remaining within the existing second bedroom was used to accommodate a new bathroom and laundry.

This strategy allowed the living areas on the ground floor to be consolidated to the more desirable rear of the property around a central kitchen and an existing recess in the plan. An unconventional plan was developed for the top floor connecting three separate parts with a long corridor; two distinct bedrooms (as separate pavilions on the roof) connected to a new bathroom and the new stair located below the existing slate roof. The corridor was widened between the two bedrooms to provide for a study alcove shared by the two boys. Two windows in opposite faces were located in each bedroom attaining views to the street and landscape rather than orienting to the neighbours side wall.

The strategy was driven by an investigation of several options seeking to address a number of principles to be collectively addressed by the proposal.
• Preserving the street appearance of the original pair of semidetached dwellings as a single ‘house’.
• Sacrificing existing rooms with poor amenity (poor access to sunlight, daylight, ventilation, outlook etc.) for the service areas (bathrooms, laundries, storage, etc.)
• Sacrificing rooms with the least character and retaining those with intact features (therefore making the most of the character of old and new)
• Maximising the amenity (access to sunlight, daylight, ventilation, outlook etc.) of the living areas and bedrooms.
• Reducing the cost of the proposal by confining the building to the original footprint and thereby minimising expensive footings and other load bearing construction.
• Using available spaces within the roof to minimise the cost and extent of new construction.
• Locating Living areas in the desirable northern and rear of the house at the same level as the garden.
• Preserving the amenity (notably overlooking and overshadowing) of the neighbours.

Design Outcome
The resulting house retains much of the original character of the original Federation home; both internally and externally, with the new additions being only peripherally visible from the street. The new stair (built entirely below the existing roofline) punctures the ceiling of the ground floor, lending light to the previously long and dark corridor. The character of the new roof top pavilions and rear awning borrow from the understated character of the rear common brick construction and are roofed in the same material as the existing rear portion of the house; corrugated iron.

The result is a house that respects the integrity and character of the existing Federation house but adds a new layer for contemporary living with a contemporary expression. It is this respect for street and heritage that was attributed to our award of the Marrickville Medal Commendation.