Heritage and history in Highgate: Turning a handsome Edwardian residence into a home for the future.
Awards: 2018 HIA Colorbond Seel Matt Perth Housing Awards, Home of the Year at the 2018 | 2018 HIA Colorbond Seel Matt Perth Housing Awards, Best Renovation/Addition Project over $1 million | 2018 HIA Colorbond Seel Matt Perth Housing Awards, Renovation/Addition Project of the Year | 2018 HIA Colorbond Seel Matt Perth Housing Awards, Livable Home of the Year | 2018 HIA Colorbond Seel Matt Perth Housing Awards, Peter Overman Award for Perth Innovation in Housing Project of the Year| 2019 Master Builders-Bankwest Housing Excellence Awards, Best alterations and additions over $1 million | 2019 Master Builders-Bankwest Housing Excellence Awards, Excellence in Roofing
This unique property in the heart of Highgate was a handsome Edwardian home, beginning to show its age. The owners were seeking a contemporary renovation which would give them the space and amenity to age in place comfortably. They loved the Federation feel of the house and wanted to retain as much of its heritage character as possible – without so many of the quirks and drawbacks typical of a heritage home.
And there were a lot of quirks to manage. The home, situated on a previously subdivided lot, concealed a sizeable under-croft space – the lot actually sloped down a full storey from the street frontage to the rear laneway. Its most intriguing feature was a three-storey turret at the rear of property, which offered spectacular views of the city skyline.
We took our cues from the existing forms and materials of the home; we knew our biggest challenge would be to integrate the new extension with what was already there. We envisaged a folded copper shell or carapace, floating above and protecting the rear of the house. This offered not only a response to the imposing turret, but a surface on which to work in constructing the new spaces of the house. Where the existing spaces were robust and enclosed, we wanted to bring the extension out into the open.
This copper shell gave form, function and feeling to many of the new elements. Beneath it, the existing central passageway now opens onto a new open-plan living area, the middle level of the new three-floor plan. Transitioning into rooftop terraces, it includes a suspended pool positioned over the new garage and basement spaces. Raised planter beds frame and soften the rear terrace with greenery. All three floors are connected by a bridging stair element, delicately housed in glazing between the turret and the new areas.
We were also careful to include future-proofing and convenience into the design, with CBUS control for lighting/electrical/operable screens, louvres and windows, as well as a lift. Photovoltaic solar panels, a solar hot water system and double-glazing help to reduce the energy requirements of the home significantly.
Our palette of materials was chosen not to mimic those of the original heritage home but to balance them. Many of the heavier elements – the bold face brick, the fireplaces and chimneys, the sturdy turret – were counterweighted with glass elements and innovative lighting design. The charcoal-toned and copper skins, concealed from the street by the original façade, will weather and gain character over time. We also made efficient use of space, reclaiming some of the attic cavity for a walk-in-robe and the top floor of the turret as a new study. The final, folded curve of the copper carapace even protects a private balcony, offering views of Hyde Park and the city.