And unlike many Hobart properties that benefit from an undulating plot and water views, here, the double-fronted Edwardian timber home is on relatively low-lying terrain and fairly suburban. However, for architect Mat Hinds, his life and business partner architect Poppy Taylor and their master builder Rory Wright, also the couple’s client, what was once a dilapidated shack is now a beautifully resolved home. “Rory built our Lagoon House at Clifton Beach (circa 2011). And we’ve been extremely fortunate to work with him on several of our projects,” says Hinds, who, given the long-term relationship, wasn’t surprised by Wright’s brief. “I recall his words were ‘Do what you think needs to be done’.’”
What needed to be done was to refurbish the original part of the Edwardian house, including its Huon pine veranda and fretwork (now used as bedrooms), and replace the rudimentary lean-to with a contemporary wing. “The original part of the house had long been stripped of most of its decorative embellishments. But it was never that type of house that came with excessive period detail,” says Hinds, pointing out the simple rooms, with their polished timber floors and pristine white walls.
However, replacing the lean-to is an open plan kitchen and dining/living area, together with a new bathroom and laundry. Pivotal to the form is an established peppercorn tree, as old as the house itself. “Poppy and I wanted to create a certain quality of light, the western light filtering through its branches,” says Hinds. And to create this ethereal mood, the architects included a sinuous glazed brick wall that extends along the north-west elevation, framing the peppercorn tree. This unique solution not only creates a certain quality to the living spaces, but creates a translucent veil to the wet areas, including the bathroom.
Taylor + Hinds Architects also used materials to loosely divide the original home from the new wing. So, floorboards give way to a polished concrete floor in the kitchen and dining area. And in contrast to the pristine white walls of the original rooms, the palette in the contemporary wing is hardwood plywood, both for the kitchen joinery, the built-in banquette seating and also for the ceiling. One of the few breaks (in terms of hardwood) is the in situ concrete island bench, as though ‘morphed’ from the concrete floors. Other strategic moves include hardwood timber shutters (externally clad in zinc to complement the new steel roof) that allow the eastern light to be controlled, and importantly, for cross ventilation during the warmer months of the year.
As there’s a slight incline towards the rear of the site (just under 300 square metres), the addition is anchored on a brick plinth and framed by raised garden beds. And now, instead of using the front door, the owners enter through a door to the kitchen on one side rather than through a long central passage. “This house was an exception. When we came to this project, that passage was no longer, along with most of the home’s period hallmarks,” says Hinds, who enjoyed providing a new ‘lens’ in looking at period homes. “It was never going to be just the addition of a ‘glass box’. There was an acute awareness of the tree from the outset, and of course, the quality that could be achieved with this north-western light,” adds Hinds.