The existing asymmetrical semi-detached Kirribilli house, notable for it’s feature tower, was designed by John Burcham Clamp in 1906. The heritage-listed building required modern solutions to house a young, dynamic and expanding family.
The residence was a well-proportioned and detailed building enjoying a leafy outlook over neighbouring gardens and mature trees, as well as being blessed with some generous private external areas, rare to find in Kirribilli. However, the building suffered from a series of adhoc additions with multiple ungainly level changes, inherently poor connections between internal and external living and a chronic lack of privacy from adjacent two ten-storey apartment blocks built in the 1970’s. These buildings had impacted on both the outlook from the residence and the privacy of its occupants.
The central idea was to build a new tower, over 3 levels, which would become a singular solution to a variety of complex problems. This tower, located against the rear boundary in the southern corner of the garden, was deliberately separated from the existing building and a new multi-level circulation link was formed between the two buildings. The contemporary building stitched together the previously disparate levels of the residence and the site. It functioned as a lynch pin, opening out in multiple directions over a series of levels. Internal living spaces were connected to external courtyards, which were raised up to meet the ground floor living zones that were previously denied any external access.
In plan the angular nature of the new building was a product of the unusual chamfered site boundary. In elevation and section the form was influenced by the need to create connectivity between the internal and external spaces on multiple levels. The sculptural roof form was extracted as a device to scoop northern light into the building whist tapering off toward the boundary to maintain the existing solar access and amenity to neighbouring apartments to the south. The tower also provided much needed privacy by shielding the living spaces from overlooking apartments. Recessed strip windows along the top level of the tower provided screened views back into the neighbouring garden and mature tree canopies.
From the street the new work sits respectfully behind the original building. From the surrounding open grounds and neighbouring driveway the new work is highly visible and the contemporary palette of sandstone, face brick and zinc differentiates the additions. The face brick garden wall, cradling the long western edge of the site, is deliberately perforated to provide a sense of play and to allow light, air and views into, and out of, the enclosed garden.
Refurbishment of the original building and a modern colour scheme express the decorative forms of the 1906 structure against the simple angular forms of the new work. Colour, texture and materials, both externally and internally play a major role in recreating a unique, sophisticated and vibrant family home.