Kensington Cottage Addition

Status: in progress

This family home required an upgrade from the small cottage that sat on a large Kensington block. The existing cottage had three bedrooms and a kitchen at the front of the house, with a more recent addition of a living area, laundry, bathroom, and bedroom to the rear. The first step in creating the dream home for our clients was to remove the rear addition to the cottage that limited the use of rest of the site and the possibilities for expansion. The three bedrooms at the front of the house remained, with the kitchen being converted to a bathroom. The approach for the extension was to design a narrower build that left an external area sufficient in size for a pool. This extension houses an open plan kitchen, dining, and living area, with an exhibition space that connects it to the original cottage. A laundry & drying area is accessed off the side the kitchen. A first floor was included above the newer build portion to accommodate a master bedroom with walk-in-robe, ensuite, powder room, sitting room, and a balcony overlooking the pool. On the ground floor, a covered alfresco area connects the main house to the store room, powder room, and garage which has side street access thanks to the corner block.


What were the clients’ main driving priorities for this house?

Our clients had a growing family, their kids were becoming teenagers, and everyone was feeling the house becoming cramped, in particular the living areas. The existing main living area was contained in a small sleepout extension to the back of the cottage. With the cottage sitting on a large block, and with the family feeling a lack of space, the obvious solution was to leave the existing cottage to the front of the property, remove the recent extension and expand the living areas of the home to the rear of the large block. This was a more economic & sustainable decision than to knock down the whole home and begin a complete new build.

What sort of lifestyle did these clients want to live?

The emphasis for our clients was very much about connectivity to the outdoors and encouraging family interaction. Their children often had friends over on the weekends, so creating large outdoor spaces and a pool area that both the children and the parents could enjoy together was vital. The father often spent time away from Perth due to the nature of his job, so when he returned home it was essential that the home was a place where the whole family could spend quality time together.

What was the biggest challenge or compromise that had to be made?

It was challenging to design a contemporary extension that was distinct from the existing building to allow the new addition to be treated almost as a separate build from the works required to the existing cottage. Treating the extension as a new build, as opposed to part of a renovation to the existing cottage, makes the process of construction easier and also has a cost benefit for our clients. Construction works on existing buildings are more expensive than new builds as they are understandably more complex. In dividing our client’s home into two portions of works – one for renovation works to the existing cottage, and one for a new build to the rear, we are able to confine the higher construction costs to apply to purely the front portion of the house rather than the whole build.

What is the clients’ and your favourite feature of this home?

The clients’ favourite feature of the home is the inclusion of an exhibition space that would allow our client to display his collection of dinosaur artefacts! Additionally, the connectivity of the kitchen to the outside area such that it allowed visual supervision of the kids playing in the backyard and the pool, was a major benefit of the extension.

For me, my favourite part of this home was the fact that we were able to keep the extension one room wide. This maximises crossflow ventilation to all spaces, and allows warm winter sun penetration to all areas – this makes it extremely energy efficient and comfortable.

Can you give us a rundown of the sustainable features of this home?

The extension was double brick – this was a preference by our clients and something that we wouldn’t normally do. For our projects we prefer to choose materials that are more sustainable however we respect our clients’ decision to go down that path. We take decisions like this as a challenge to improve the sustainability of the building in other ways. The benefit of the use of double brick did mean that the building had a lot of good thermal mass. The roof design allowed us to include significant amounts of solar PV into the development which means our clients have the ability to run their air-conditioner to cool or heat the home throughout the day. At the end of the day they can turn the heating or cooling and the thermal mass allows the house to retain its temperature throughout the night without the need for additional heating or cooling. While the main construction was double brick, we strategically placed timber framing & cladding in select areas of the building to minimise heat loading of the external building fabric.

The single room width of the extension allows for quick cooling in summer through cross flow ventilation. It also means that the warming winter sun can access all rooms in the house.