Katrine Street Residence

Floreat, Western Australia

A mid-century family home by one Perth’s most celebrated architects – how could we possibly knock it down?

This home presented a unique challenge for Chindarsi Architects. Built in the 1960’s by Donald Bailey of Perth’s celebrated Howlett and Bailey Architects, it held a lot of significance and showcased many of the trends and idiosyncrasies of the era. It was also terribly run-down; initial discussions with the owners centred on demolition and rebuilding from scratch.

We accepted the commission on the condition that we be allowed to retain and build upon the existing house – a condition which the owners thankfully accepted. As experienced builders, they were well aware of the challenges of the alterations and managed the project themselves. We started with a concept of ‘designed separation’ to distinguish the old and new areas of the home, with many of the existing elements, like the shallow butterfly roof, offering inspiration and departure points for the newer work. The owners wanted to retain accents from the original home, like the suspended copper fireplace, which we then perpetuated in the new sections, with elements like the striking copper front door and entry canopy. We kept the original open plan and interior transparency which the owners enjoyed, with a high skillion roof and ample glazing on the northern aspect to bring natural light deep into the plan, but we also incorporated timber screens to allow for more privacy in the living areas.

The owners also wanted a home that would give them the best of Perth’s contemporary indoor/outdoor lifestyle and keep them comfortable year-round. We extended the new roof to encompass the outdoor alfresco, barbecue area and garden pavilion, uniting them with the family’s indoor living spaces. Comfort and sustainability were slightly more challenging; the original 1960’s house required some significant work to become properly energy efficient. We added abundant insulation over all of the ceilings, as well as within the new lightweight walls. High performance glazing was paired with the existing slatted timber sun-shades to keep out the worst of the summer sun, and we added a ‘brise soleil’ matrix of fin elements across the new southern facade to provide additional protection in the hot afternoons.