The original 1860’s home at 13 Trouton St sits modestly on its block. From most vantage points on the street
–set back as it is from its neighbours- the little, weatherboard cottage is almost obscured from view. Humble
and unassuming, its appearance defines its cultural significance; the workers cottage preserves a ‘moment’
in the rich, blue-collar heritage and character of Balmain.
Whilst chic cafes and boutique clothing stores have long since driven out the dockyards and factories, the
cottage survives, an evolutionary relic of contemporary Australian architecture. Etched into the locally grown
weatherboards are the teeth marks of steam driven saws used in the old Balmain lumberyards and beneath
the skin the bones of the home disclose rough sawn log studs, detailing early modes of construction.
Preserving and restoring the integrity of the existing cottage as part of the streetscape and the diverse,
eclectic, urban fabric of Balmain was always key to development of the site. Any addition needed to be
sympathetic, sensitively yet distinctively bridging the divide between new and old.
In response, the design evolved to sit behind and-- recessive from the original cottage. The new building is
light, bright and contrasts spatially with the low, intimate spaces of the existing house. In the chasm between
the two, new and the old are united through a light connection, a transitional space at the focal point of the
home that carves out an intimate courtyard and a soaring gateway to the residence. Along the street, a
characteristically period picket fence is reinstated.
The brief from our clients was for light, light and more light. After several years of living in a tight, dark Victorian
terrace the couple were ready to embrace the North- easterly aspect of their new block. Operating as
an interface between the interior and exterior condition, the rear façade is a playful composition of strong,
off-form concrete elements which mediate the light from the east and west, and striking, fixed marble louvres
that filter and attenuate northern light in summer yet allow it to be drawn deep inside during winter. Selectively
admitting light into the home shields the building from excess solar-heat gain and aids in passive,
Not only utilitarian, the façade is central to the identity and character of the home, taking on an ephemeral
quality as it captures and translates shifts in time and seasons. The marble louvres- cream at noon- glow
iridescent blue in the evening as the sun sets and cause dynamic bands of shade to play over the interior
walls during the day.
Voids over the kitchen and dining rooms open up the interior, and give definition to the activities of the
square, open-plan living spaces of the ground floor. On the upper level the library and main bedroom are
organised around the apertures, spatially connecting one space with the next and amplifying the sense of
openness that pervades the home.
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