With both having flexible work hours, there was a need to accommodate a home office and also a yoga studio, orientated to the east in keeping with Feng Shui principles. “Our clients weren’t looking to extend the house, but simply rework it and bring light into the core (the house is orientated to the north and lacked natural light in the living areas at the rear). The house had been renovated in the ‘90s, with little thought for aspect or orientation,” says architect Nick Harding, director of Ha Architecture.
While the front two rooms were retained for bedrooms, one as the main bedroom and the other for guests, the rear addition was completely removed. And even though a courtyard was added at the core, the footprint that extended to the rear garden was only a couple of metres. “They weren’t using the back garden. It lacked natural light and there was little connection to the living spaces,” says Harding, who worked closely with Kihara Landscapes which is well known for its traditional Japanese-style gardens. However, even before the new addition is revealed, there’s a quietness both in the landscape and in the original part of the house. At the end of the front passage, for example is a skylight allowing a soft light to bathe the wall. And before you reach the living areas, there’s an enclosed courtyard garden beyond a bathroom. “It’s about not revealing everything at once,” says Harding.
However, when one moves past the front passage, the home opens up to a yoga studio/office area on one side that overlooks a stunning garden that’s been artfully arranged. A broad deck surrounding this courtyard blurs the division between inside and out, and timber battened screen doors, protecting the large sliding glass doors, allow for an equally soft dappled light. Made from blackbutt, these timber-battened screens are arranged both vertically and horizontally to add depth and texture.
This subtle texture and use of materials also features in the open plan kitchen, dining and living area that connects to the courtyard on one side, and a modest Japanese-style raked garden along the southern edge. It features burnished concrete floors, Tasmanian joinery and Carrara marble benches in the kitchen and, like the garden, just the right amount of furniture in the space to create a sense of calm and tranquillity.
As the land falls away gradually from the street by approximately one metre, the pitch-shaped roof in the new living wing is considerably higher (almost 5.5 metres at its apex). Combined with large picture windows that frame the bamboo along the rear fence, it’s a Zen-like ambience that starts from the front gate. “Our clients weren’t looking for a larger house. They were more interested in the quality of the spaces, with greater cross ventilation and sunlight irrespective of where they happen to be in the house,” says Harding, who enjoys seeing the yoga mats taken outside during the warmer months and the sense of outdoor dining even though it’s confined to the indoor dining area. “When you’re in this new space with the screen doors opened, it’s not dissimilar to sitting on a verandah.”