A yearning for the past and excitement for the future manifests a lovely outcome in Clayton Orszaczky’s Grove House in Sydney’s Woollahra. An initial attraction to the shared private garden at the rear of the heritage-listed house—although not to the overall house—has led to the enlisting of the architects’ help to remodel the two-storey home. The building was once attached with a questionable extension that functioned much like a “green house in summer and an ice box in winter”, according to the architects. In addition, poor planning of shared spaces, such as the kitchen and living area, were pushed against spaces that offer no natural lighting—a house with little functionality was in dire need of an upgrade.
It would take a year of living and becoming acquainted with the house’s climate before the clients enlisted Clayton Orszaczky to assist them in adjusting the bones of the architecture within. The brief was to design a house to adapt to the climate of the city’s inner eastern area. A consultation with a heritage architect and sketching of the two-storey addition became the first step in realising the project.
The original terrace house embanked on the north end now presents as a monolithic concrete shell that embraces the eastern edge of the site. Gone is the glass box conservatory that now reveals a kitchen and living extension with impressive sliding doors to let the landscape meld into the home. The new connection purposely allows thorough communication between the living in the existing building to the hearth residing in the extension. In a way, a severed link has been restored.
With a touch of fresh paint and new furniture pieces, the original house retains an additional living and study space on the ground, whereas on the levels above are two bedrooms. The concrete extension, which comes with an additional bedroom above, transforms the two existing bedrooms into a luxurious suite—with one being given an additional ensuite attached to the walk-in robe. If the existing garden wasn’t enough, the roof of the extension is another garden which one can walk on a sunny morning.
On first impression, it’s undeniable the contrast between the stone and the white is quite striking. Although, only the clients and the architects would understand the concrete is a reflection of the client’s past life in Japan. This would clarify the smooth surfaces of the concrete and the bold curve seen looming over the garden—somewhat reflective of Ando’s or even Ito’s concrete masterpieces. Strong polished brutalist notes are included in the irregularly shaped concrete kitchen bench paired against smooth timber surfaces for that Wabi-Sabi essence. Let alone the near singular surface of the concrete extension makes the living room a space of Zen, directing those who live there to appreciate a moment of the beauty of the garden.
A fitting reflection of the primary reason the house serenaded the client.
[Images courtesy of Clayton Orszaczky. Photography by Jack Lovel.]