Annandale House

From INDESIGN #22:
The suburb of Annandale straddles a ridge with views to the east and west, broad streets and a predominantly Federation-style housing stock varying from the grand to the very modest, from the stylish to the very utilitarian.

This standard two-bedroom cottage occupies a very prominent corner position, set on top of a sandstone rockface overlooking the road.
An existing extension to the two-bedroom cottage was removed to make way for a new master bedroom and ensuite, a new kitchen, living and dining area and a re-landscaped rear garden. Although this particular cottage is hardly a candidate for heritage listing, the new addition needed to respect the historical character of the existing building, along with the contextual cohesion of Annandale as a suburb. Councils, as we know, are much wedded to sentimental, scenographic pastiches. An alternative, though, is an unapologetically contemporary insertion which relates to the original building in scale, but not in form or materials. The resulting dialogue of styles enhances the original building while still positioning the building as a whole in its own time.

That was the strategy adopted by Rolf Ockert for this addition. From the front elevation, the new - seemingly self-contained - volume finesses the side of the existing cottage, extruding discreetly from the side of the house at the rear. From the side street elevation, the addition has the effect of liberating the house from the hill, so that it now appears to float free of the sandstone rock face. At the back, the sliding floor-to-ceiling glazed doors create a seamless connection between inside and outside. Effectively a verandah room, the open plan kitchen, dining and living areas lead straight on to an L-shaped timber deck which floats slightly above the lawn. A timber batten fence provides material connection with the deck and privacy from the street below.

The interior is an all-white space, punctuated by the linear kitchen, painted red and set into the wall to minimise its dominance over the open plan. A highlight window runs the length of the western wall, drawing afternoon sunlight into the room without compromising the privacy of the space from the street below.

From the side street, the house presents as an elegant juxtaposition of linear planes with an intriguing stacking of three material zones - the original stripped-back brick retaining wall, the horizontal timber batten fence and the sensual Symonite panelled wall of the addition.

Photos by Rolf Ockert; Architect.