A modest, but well constructed bungalow adapted for the times by Tribe Studio

A modest, but well constructed bungalow adapted for the times by Tribe Studio

Architects: Tribe Studio
Location: Sydney, Australia
Year: 2016
Photo courtesy: Tribe Studio

“A modest, but well constructed, 1930s bungalow in a leafy Sydney suburban area is adapted for the times by Tribe Studio with a garden pavilion and a series of decorative flourishes, reducing its footprint and accommodating the new program in an extended gable roof form.

The original house was well built and charming, with more than a touch of whimsy in its presentation: herringbone brick gables, a glorious brick sunburst over the door that is now reflected in the new rear extension, and a bit of Tudor detailing. However, siting, planning and energy efficiency were poor.

Our brief asked for the house to be converted to suit the lifestyle of a young family. That gave us the opportunity to address the garden more fully, to explore the character of the house and the character of the area, which is predominantly decorated single storey houses in beautiful leafy gardens.

The reworked house is studiously compact, and yet it delivers on a big suburban brief – multiple bedrooms, bathrooms, and living spaces. Its small footprint and single storey expression preserve the sense of small house within an established garden, consistent with the other houses in the area and enhancing the streetscape.

The rear is treated with as much care, attention and whimsy as the original decorative brickwork front facade, reflecting the inversion of suburban values from ‘best face forward to street’ to focus on the leisure of the back garden and entertaining areas.

Form making is subtle – a ridge extended to create a gable, housing two new bedrooms a bathroom and a rumpus. Dormer windows sit back from the key elevations, facing side boundaries.

Materiality is preserved – a celebration of decorative brickwork, lichen-covered roof tiles . We honored the heritage fabric of this house by using a level of quality and detailing in the new back garden elevation. The brick sunburst on the front appears in the new rear elevation, lead light windows to the front morph into steel framed windows at the rear. It is a kind of material palette call and response between the public and private faces of the building. Solid brass and marble hardware used throughout the house is from Tribe Studio’s collaboration, BITPART, designed and made in Australia.

In terms of sustainability, the key move here was clever planning, flexibility of use, and a light touch. The footprint of the house has been reduced, and new accommodation is shoe-horned into a roof extension. Small room sizes respect the original order of the house, while adding multiple uses, and it now has photovoltaic cells, water collection tanks, hydronic heating system, high thermal mass, and well functioning cross ventilation.”

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