Like many homes we’ve encountered over the years, on our first site visit to Alexandria we found a pokey, dark terrace disconnected from its backyard. Our clients also clearly needed more space and storage – hard to achieve on a site less than 140 square metres.
Our key innovations were to revisit the floorplan and tuck a folded-form second storey into the existing home at the rear. Reconfiguring the floorplan allowed us to relocate the living areas to the rear of the home, instead of hidden within it, so that what landscape we had on site could be fully realised.
These innovations also allowed us to add 22% more space to the home – via a new main bedroom, ensuite, BIRs, dining room and ample storage– without enlarging its footprint. From our point of view, sustainable architecture and space-saving measures go hand in hand. Through utilising “small home” design principles we borrowed light and created sightlines to extend views, to make small spaces feel larger.
High ceilings and exposed rafters in the new dining area create warmth and roominess and wide-span glass sliding doors extend these living areas into the renewed courtyard. Upstairs, sliding partitions make the main bedroom feel larger by “borrowing” space from the top of the stairwell. An expansive window here frames the canopy of a nearby flowering gum, and allows for access to light and ventilation from both the north and east.
An overhang designed into the new first-floor main bedroom creates shelter for the courtyard below, and allows us to add more floorspace to this addition. A bay window planter box pops out,adding greenery and capturing views of the gumtrees.
To make the home more comfortable in winter, we installed environmentally friendly hydronic heating through the old and new parts of the house,fuelled by energy and cost efficient heat pumps. Provision for future solar panels was incorporated into the design of the roof, and a 2000L rainwater tank supplements the household’s water demands. Passive cross ventilation allows the home to cool down quickly and improves airflow on muggy days.
When the concrete floor was being poured,gumleaves from the nearby trees fell onto its surface. Rather than removing these imprints through polishing, our clients opted to keep them, adding another unique touch to this charming small home. Hence, Imprint House.