Chewton Holiday House

Built by the grandfather of my wife, this weekend-house is typical for the Australian 1960’s. Weather-board finish, double-hung windows and a veranda at the front and back. While the house has become the embodiment of outdated ways of living, it also became a valuable monument of family memories. Rather then demolishing the existing house, we chose to pursue the design of addition that respects the existing plan, reinvents the existing architectural language and ultimately helps the house survive another family generation.

Date March 2016 • Client Private Commission • Filed under Residential



Damage Inspection

Its fifty-some years long life has left its marks. A gas leak fire, bushfire, the intense Australian sun, termites and the use by my family have all contributed to its decay. An inspection of damages and findings shows corrosion, bad conditioned material, deferred maintenance and incorrect repairs. These findings, and the implicated cost for their repair, were considered in the new design.
  • North
  • West

Volume Study

It quickly occurred to us that our love and appreciation for the existing house was of a level that only an honest extension would be justified. Honest, in the sense that it makes clear the difference between old and new, but does so in a subtle way. The extension should not be there for itself, it should be there for the sake of the old patient, like a prosthesis. It should speak a similar language, but from a different time. It should incorporate similar ideals, but executed with a more developed toolset. We therefore explored options of where to position a new volume and ended up choosing the west side. Aesthetically, this made the extension connect to the lower part of the existing roof and as a result the existing house remains more present visually. Functionally, this position gives the best sunlight for the daily rhythm of the family while visiting.
  • Existing floor plan
  • New floor plan

Existing and Future Floor Plan

The inspection showed two major structural problems; termites had strongly affected the existing toilet and washing area and the brickwork of the existing fireplace was beyond repair. This became a major input for the design. We relocated the toilet to the existing bathroom, by making the front bedroom smaller and turning it into a study drenched in soft Southern light. By extending out from the existing living room, as the fireplace was to be demolished, we could relocate the kitchen from the back to the front of the house. The original kitchen became the master bedroom, enjoying the sunlight of the early morning. The iconic fireplace was reimplemented on the western sundeck. These choices were made to upgrade the house to todays living standards, without it becoming unrecognizable from its former ways of functioning.