This is one of my favourite places, our family farm, located in the south country of NSW. As a family of six, we quickly out-grew the original homestead, and desperately needed to extend. The question was how to achieve this without losing the charm and character of the place. We needed more space but we didn’t want to damage the fabric of the original farmhouse and we didn’t want an addition that duplicated the style ofthe 1870s building. This project combined the hard work of my parents in law as builders, the architect Alex Roth and myself. It wasn’t an easy journey. It truly was a labour of love.
The original home was a simple wooden weather-board farmhouse painted white with a sandstone base. It is lovely and no modern addition, in my opinion could hope to compete with it. It is not heritage listed.
The aim of the renovation was to preserve the character of the existing buildings and to restore the relationship between the collection of buildings on site while incorporating a substantial new building. Under most circumstances this minimalist structural addition would be an elegant and elemental work of modern architecture, not necessarily noteworthy but nonetheless impressive and liveable. Connected in a clean and creative way to character-filled homestead, however, the nature of the structure starts to change entirely. The design of the modern extension has elements of the simple country shed to evoke the rural character of the site – essentially it is a “modern” shed. The coreten steel cladding mimicking the rustiness of the existing sheds .
The glass entranceway provides the necessary demarcation between old and new, creating a separation between the two styles and buildings. If you walk to your right you emerge into old world charm but if you head left you sweep past a modern sculpture and enter into a fabulous free-flowing contemporary floor-plan.
A light filled corridor ends with another sculptural work adorning the wall. This is no longer a quaint farmhouse: The pleasingly lived-in feel has been usurped by a crisp modernity, a clearly defined new chapter in the history of the property.
The addition is made up of rectangular boxes clad alternatively in oxidized Coreten steel and random placed sand-stone. 1300m high concrete windows, weighing around 600kg, puncture the walls all the way along. Polished concrete floors run throughout this new portion of the home. The dominant rectangular concrete windows on the new property are a modern response to the openings in the old sheds. It is almost as if the modern building is a sculptural addition to the old homestead. New materials and contemporary forms seem to compliment rather than compete with the aged farm house structures to which they are attached or adjoining.
When we initially purchased this property we were a family of three. Many years later, as a family of six our needs had changed. We required increased living and sleeping space to accommodate ourselves and our guests. Despite the fact that it is architecturally simple and reminiscent of a rural shed it is very modern and responsive to our contemporary lifestyle. It was tempting to renovate the old house at the same time but it held so many precious memories, it seemed wrong to make any changes. All we did was replace the carpets and paint the house an industrial charcoal colour. Perhaps this was too bold and insensitive a change but the new addition was at risk of completely over-powering the old home and the metallic charcoal has really allowed it to ‘pop’
In my unbiased opinion, the final structure was an ambitious but ultimately a very successful solution. It has retained the comfortable familiarity of the old while adding contemporary style to the new sections of the housing complex. The addition of a sleek modern building extension has created a contrast that enhances the aesthetics of both the old and new alike. The architect talks of the modern extension “wrapping the existing cottage in the modern but simple shed-like form” as if it is “encasing a valuable object in protective arms”. By retaining the visual independence of the main cottage, the addition appears neither visually dominant nor overbearing as its blends and engages in the overall configuration.
CreditsDesign Architect: Roth Architects
Project Manager: Oska Projects
Project Builder: Gallagher Builders
Interior Designer: Mandie Purcell
Landscape Design: Spirit Level Designs
Photography: Murray Fredericks