Carter Williamson Architects - Balmain House in Sydney, Australia. Print
Thursday, 23 June 2011 08:25

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The concept for the house is a charred box that protrudes horizontally like fallen lumber, complemented by sandstone rockwork and steel supports. Its concrete pool also reflects the charred timber them...
The original 1860’s home 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.

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Edited by Lynda Waggoner


10.Balmain-House_24.Balmain-House_2Preserving 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.
3.Balmain-House_26.Balmain-House_2In 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.
5.Balmain-House_2The 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, thermal control.

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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Last Updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2011 09:20