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House Woodlands

A contemporary addition to an existing 1970’s brick homestead on a large parcel of land within Woodlands, NSW. AO created an addition that complemented the existing dwelling but offered the amenities and spaces to suit a modern lifestyle and a growing family.
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Project Brief

The brief for this project was to create a beautiful warm family home that suited a modern lifestyle, working with the existing homestead on the site but to maximise the beautiful northern outlook. The existing house was to be improved and modified to stitch together a seamless addition that added much-needed space to the dwelling for a family of four. The new additions were to be light-filled spaces that are comfortable all year round with minimal requirement for air conditioning. The clients’ requirements included an addition to the northeast of the existing house to accommodate a new kitchen/living/dining space with a butler’s pantry, powder room, small office, and a single garage to the south of the main space. There was to be a good-sized terrace for entertaining that flowed from the main living area. In addition to this, a larger master bedroom suite was required with a walk-in robe and en-suite using part of the existing house. Within the existing house, it was also required to create a larger laundry and dedicated mudroom with external access. The existing house also struggled to direct people to the entry, this was to be explored and improved as part of the works.
Project team

Architecture Team: Tony O’Meara + Kalpana Sagar

Photographer: Luc Remond

Builder: Burlace Construction (Main House) + Quay3 Constructions (Pool Pavilion)

Landscape Design: Susie Reynolds

Landscaper: Josh Shepherd

Interiors: AO Design Studio + Partridge Daniels

Structural and Hydraulic Engineer: Northrop Consulting Engineers

Surveyor: Richard Cox

Bushfire + Wastewater: Harris Environmental

Basix: Applications Solutions

Geotech: Southern Geotechnics NSW

Design Solution

The solution to this design brief centred around creating a highly passively designed living addition that would be comfortable all year round without the use of active heating or cooling. This was achieved through the use of a skillion roof with carefully designed overhangs and blade walls that allowed for maximum solar penetration in winter and blocked the summer sun from hitting the glazing. The heat from this winter sun was collected using a thermal mass in that of a burnished concrete floor, which radiated heat into the evening. The additions were also well insulated with airtightness an important factor during the build to ensure a beautifully warm internal atmosphere in winter and a lovely cooling space in summer.

Stitching together the new and old parts of the project where one of the most successful aspects. We see using the existing fabric as one of the most sustainable ways to build, as this carries so much embodied energy. With this in mind, we look to rework the existing unused entry point into a new light-filled study space, the master bedroom became the most amazing en-suite retaining the fireplace and giving it a spa-like feel. The old kitchen provided all the infrastructure for a larger laundry space with the existing laundry becoming a dedicated mudroom with an external entry point. Finally, each of the bedrooms was updated to allow more natural light and the existing living room became a perfect evening space to relax and look onto the central courtyard.

Sustainable Approach

Sustainable Design is the underlying philosophy for all our projects at AO Design Studio. Kells Creek Road is an exemplary project for this philosophy. For any alterations and additions, we see so much value in the existing building, the most sustainable approach is to find a way to work with the existing fabric and give it a new lease of life, as this carries so much embodied energy. That is just what we looked to do for this project, the existing house has been updated with new double-glazed windows and doors, improved insulation and airtightness creating a much-improved thermal envelope. The additions were carefully designed to maximise passive solar heat gain throughout winter while blocking any excess heat in summer, as seen below. The use of a burnished concrete slab allows for the retention of this heat and its slow release throughout the evening, reducing the need for any additional heating sources.

The climatic conditions of the Southern Highlands require more thought within the siting, design, and construction to achieve homes that are comfortable all year round. We strongly believe that getting the envelope of the building right is critical to this, choosing the right materials, construction techniques and technology to suit the location and design. In addition to this, reducing the environmental impact of each project is equally as important through the reuse of materials or sourcing locally to reduce transportation distances. It is only through a holistic approach with
all the project team actively engaged can a sustainable outcome be achieved, and this was the case working together with Burlace Constructions.

Design Approach

As with the majority of your projects, we believe in designing for Age in Place. Allowing our clients to remain in their homes for much longer and ensuring it is accessible and comfortable for them to live independently. This was achieved through open plan living spaces that are free of obstacles, increased spaces between fixed furniture, such as kitchen island and benchtop, or areas sharing the corridor space such as the pantry or coffee station. We also look to reduce steps where possible; this house is all on one level with step-free transitions from the additions to the existing house, into all the bathrooms, from the porch into the house and from the house onto the main terrace.

Natural ventilation is something we strive for in all of our designs to create healthy indoor environments. For this project, we ensured areas for natural cross ventilation in both north-south and east-west directions through the main living space to cater for the varying wind direction of the site. We looked to use ceiling fans to help circulate the area and opportunities for louvred windows that could be safely left open overnight to purge heat build-up. The use of a central courtyard also created a sheltered space to still allow windows to be opened during the stronger winds that come from the west.

Orientation was key for the design of this project, the proposed main living, dining, and kitchen are all orientated to the north with large glazing that is protected by a carefully designed roof overhang to allow maximum winter sun while completely blocking the summer sun. Secondary spaces are all located to the rear of these main spaces with the garage being the innermost space that received the smallest amount of direct sunlight.

For this project, we look to use locally sourced materials where possible, such as the timber cladding, and re-use materials from the existing house, like the external internal brickwork for other areas of the addition. The additions were constructed using all locally sourced timber framing to improve the embodied energy of the build.

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