A celebration of old and new – Brunswick

Peek House is an alteration and additions project to a Victorian cottage in Brunswick, Melbourne. The concept for Peek House was to expand on the charm and quaintness of the original cottage as a muse for a new contemporary home. Kuzman Architecture skillfully embedded into the essence of the design a want to celebrate old and new, rough and smooth, dark and light. The original house consisted of two front bedrooms and a living room at the rear that was internalised – cut off from the garden by a series of lean-to additions. The original house grew increasingly darker and smaller as you traveled through the spaces. The brief was to provide a separate kids area, a larger integrated living space that connects to the garden, new modern amenities, and to introduce much-needed natural light and volume on what is a very tight site. It was vital to the owners that new works were not soulless additions and that we add a sense of individuality to their homes.
The heritage verandah, front entry, and main bedroom were retained and restored. The second bedroom was converted into a combined bathroom laundry by inserting half-height tiled partitions, thus retaining the room’s heritage proportions and features. The home’s history is displayed through retained rough-textured brickwork and fireplaces, contrasting dramatically against crisp new materials of the living addition. The material pallet was kept to a minimum, allowing light, texture, and volumes to be the center of attention. Supported by exposed timber framing the first-floor addition accommodates the kids’ area beneath a steep asymmetrical roofline. Framed voids between floors funnel light to below whilst giving views to the peeked volumes above.
A triangular window between old and new rooflines acts as a sundial projecting a triangular beam of light across the walls. The time of day and seasons are now at the heart of the house. As a worker’s terrace cottage, the home sits as part of a row of similar forms. The tight site and planning conditions informed the new asymmetrical roofline that peeks subtly above existing rooflines from the rear laneway but is entirely invisible from the front heritage façade.
The considerable expense was required to rectify the cottage, with budget becoming a constraint for the proposed works. However, cost-saving measures resulted in opportunities for bold interventions and considered restraint. An off-the-shelf, the staircase was emboldened with terracotta paint, the structure was left exposed and kitchen cabinetry paired back to its frame.
Both original and new sections of the house had insulation added to walls, ceiling, floorboards, and concrete slab to meet new energy standards. Windows are double glazed with openings that enable good cross-flow ventilation. The new design focussed on opportunities for Northern and Western light and solar gain. Western windows have custom awnings to protect against the summer sun. Gas fixtures were made redundant and there is provision for a future solar system. The site has a 3000ltr rainwater harvesting system for garden irrigation and toilet flushing.

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