Darling Point House: Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

Darling Point House - Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage, Living Room With View To Garden

Project: Darling Point House
Architects: Alexander & CO
Location: Sydney, Australia
Year 2019
Photography: Tom Ferguson

This project is the alteration and addition of an existing Victorian cottage in Darling Point, Sydney. In recognition of the local suburbs’ vernacular, the ambition was to pay homage to a traditional grand home within a limited footprint.

Darling Point House - Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

Within the building’s heritage walls the team has articulated a contemporary floor plan for a noble family home including the overall replanning of the floor plate with relocation of stairs, four bedrooms and a garden terrace.

Darling Point House - Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage, Hallway With Joinery Detail

The clients are a family of five, with three young children. The brief revolved around a highly programmable floor plate within a tightly condensed footprint. Each parent had particular needs including privacy, adult space and ample amenity for their kids including separate rooms with desks, wardrobes and play areas. The lower floor rooms and limited garden needed to provide the decompression space necessary for the children at meal/play time, as well as for the family to operate at different time scales; both the noisy, public and the intimate, private.

Darling Point House - Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage, Dining Room

The architects’ pursuit throughout was to create measured complexity; a story of rooms and a home in which each inhabitant could find their own usage, favourite nook or public arena. Densely told, this is a story which is effectively nostalgic, allows personal and intimate experiences and creates a high value of storytelling per metre, meeting the clients brief with care.

Darling Point House - Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage, End Table Detail

Similarly, the interest in the textured, hand constructed and materially robust spirit of the home was a theme the architects maintained during the design of this project. All surfaces have been deliberately hand detailed and finished from polished plaster and painted tidelines to ceiling lining boards and contemporary wall paneling.

kitchen, Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

In the kitchen, two pot railings in solid brass are encouraged to patina with time, reflecting the authenticity of material selections within the home. They also include light fittings.

Darling Point House - Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

Alexander &Co also explored several historic references throughout including the application of traditional paved limestone floors in the kitchen and scullery, a grand central stairwell and light-well and the hearth of the grand rooms as well as contemporary interpretations of traditional wall paneling shown throughout. Upstairs, the family bathroom was designed as an abstract of a traditional winter-garden with steel-framed skylight and timber ceiling paneling.

Darling Point House - Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

Darling Point house is a heritage conservation zone and is fiercely protected by its local community. Our house falls into this zone and is identified within an inventory of contributory items. Our role during the design and reconstruction was to allow the house to have its own celebrated story and scale within a tightly administered public domain.

Darling Point House - Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage, Staircase With View To Dining Room

With intent to regain the spirit of the building, rather than simply recreate its history we sought to dismantle the components of a home typical of the surrounding neighbourhood before scaling it back to fit the specifics of the site. This included replanning of the floor plate, with relocation of stairs, rooms and amenities as well as external works. In the absence of ‘open plan’ the architects have created a house of rooms; a home of rich personalisation for its inhabitants that is greatly beneficial to the client.

Darling Point House - Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage, kids bedroom

But it is here too that we also find innovation, the built form sympathetic to its surrounding environment. The home is detailed to feel valuable within its restricted dimension and still told each internal story without obvious restriction. District views are carefully framed by panelled and obscured windows and doors, external landscaping and the glow of garden sconce lighting.

bedroom, Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

The project is beautiful in its exploration of finding the contemporary and grand within what is historic and compact; youthful but also reverential. It is a delicate, slightly feminine study in the role of the contemporary classic.

Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

home office, Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

bathroom, Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

bathroom, Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage

Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage, Entrance Hallway

Alteration and Addition of an Existing Victorian Cottage, External Entrance

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