Beach-side house

John Cocking’s clients ran a mini competition before choosing his design for the revamp of their 50s property. His seductively simple concept is essentially a sleeve and over the back of the original house.
A SIMPLE FORM – A BOX – IS THE BASIS of this striking renovation in one of Sydney’s beach-side suburbs. Placed as a ‘sleeve’, which has been slipped over the rear of the existing house, the box has been used to define the new space, frame the views across Manly Beach and frame out the neighbouring buildings. The box form is also evident in the way materials, textures and finishes have been used inside and outside the building.
The three-storey extension integrates well with the existing house and provides the accommodation necessary for a family with changing needs. Architect John Cockings spent a lot of time with his clients considering the internal arrangement of spaces, the inter-relationships between the family members and the needs of their growing children.
The design gives the parents their own private space on the upper level with the living areas and children’s bedrooms located on the street level. Below this, at the level of the garden, are a large playroom and guest accommodation.
A few steps mark the transition from the pre-existing part of the house to the new, while the new stairwell is the central spatial link which allows the differing floor and ceiling levels of the old and new to happily coexist.
The rear and centre sections are light and bright with walls of glazed panels to the south and slot glazing running across the north elevation at the top junction of the ‘sleeve’. More light to the centre of the house also spills in from the stairwell.
The internal spaces are open plan with strong visual connections at each level as well as between levels. This has been aided by the thoughtful design and placement of fixed storage units on each level which define different usage areas without enclosing them.
Colours and textures play an important part in the execution of this project. Materials were chosen to reflect the beach-side location so they are easy care and practical yet with a warmth and softness appropriate to the nurturing environment of the family home. The choice of flooring and treads to the stair, for example, combine the natural warmth of timber with the texture of sisal, while the perforated stainless steel balustrade to the stairs is another textural experience — visually interesting, it softens divisions and links adjoining spaces.
The colour palette was also carefully chosen. It is practical yet playful, with warm earthy colours used for internal feature walls, repeated in the furnishings and again in the colourful panels of the rear elevation.
While this extension is based on a humble box, there is certainly nothing humble about the design of this project or the family’s ongoing enjoyment of their new home.

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