Elm Grove House / Ben Walker Architects
Text description provided by the architects. The project comprised alterations and additions to an existing red brick cottage in O’Connor. The primary components of the client brief included improved access to natural daylight & connection to rear yard, additional living spaces, good passive thermal performance, and flexibility of use. The existing cottage was renovated to provide new flooring finishes, new double glazed windows, wall and roof insulation and re-programming of some interior rooms. Strategically located skylights were added to increase natural daylight exposure and new roof tiles and sarking were installed. The existing house was largely retained in terms detailing and trims, The northern portion of the old house was re-programmed into a parents wing comprising bedroom, robes and ensuite. The southern portion of the house is used as living and “flexible” spaces that can become a study, spare bedroom, work out room etc.
The new works are located along the southern side of the block to preserve northern yard. The wing runs parallel to a stand of existing mature Elm Trees. There was a commitment by the project team to keep the Elms for their visual and cooling qualities. To preserve the health of the Elm trees, the new wing was elevated and built on lengthened piered footings with concrete edge beams. This reduced the impact on the Elm roots, and allows water and air to flow around root zones. Roof water from the new wing runs into an agg drain that discharges water around the Elm tree root zones. The Elms form a beautiful back drop to the new wing when looking south from the rear yard, and also provide a landscape vista through the new highlight windows.The new wing is conceived as a distinctly different architecture that allows for a clear preservation of the proportions and readability of the original cottage. The new wing includes kitchen, living & dining, laundry, 2 bedrooms and bathroom. The architecture is expressive of function with a skillion roof lifting to the north to allow excellent solar access to new living spaces. The living spaces can open along the northern edge to provide convenient and flexible access to the rear yard. High light windows along the southern side allow excellent cross ventilation and glimpses of the mature Elm tree stand (without compromising privacy)
The project also takes serious account of solar passive and sustainability principles. The new wing includes an insulated burnished concrete slab which provides excellent isolated thermal mass for use during winter and summer. Large eaves and external motorized blinds allow for summer sun to be kept off the slab when required. High level windows on northern and southern sides allow for good ventilation and night purging. Electric heat pumps are used for domestic hot water and infrastructure has been built in for a future PV array. The retention of the elms and incorporation of passive rain harvesting for their roots assists in reducing on block temperature during summer.
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