Courtyard House is located within Sydney’s Western suburbs, an area typified by post-war brick cottages, and increasingly peppered by unsympathetic project home development. Unique to the site is the presence of a forested lake reserve. The design of the house is derived through a reading of both the natural and built context.
The new addition encloses a series of crafted interiors, each deceptively spacious despite the modest footprint, and designed to offer a heightened experience of landscape from within an intimate setting. Large sections of the facade slide fully away allowing living areas to merge into the surrounding garden and for the edge of bathroom and bedrooms to vanish into the forrest context.
Materially, the recycled brick honours the fabric of the existing cottage whilst adding robustness and patina to compliment the rugged terrain of the lake reserve. Steel and copper accents set up the house for graceful weathering. Inside, a softer palette of timber (NSW spotted gum), stone and fabric combined with a paint palette of eucalyptus greens create a vibrant, light domestic interior and bring a sense of the landscape within, a composition to compliment the framed views.
Sustainable design principles were incorporated throughout the design to minimise energy use and modulate extreme Sydney temperature fluctuations. The new addition abuts the old house defining a north-facing courtyard and orienting living spaces toward sunlight and greenery. Projecting plate steel sunshades shelter the glass from summer sun whilst perforated aluminium operable screens protect glass from low-angled sun in the late afternoon.
Large pocketing doors and screens are a feature of the living spaces and upstairs bedrooms, opening the interiors completely to the air and forest views. Roof-level clerestory louvres situated above an open staircase connecting floors allows hot air to be drawn away from all spaces within the house by a process of natural convection.
The build largely preserves an existing cottage with limited demolition works. Recycled bricks were sourced for the new addition and mixed with many of the bricks removed from the old house. This material choice is celebrated as an evocative feature both outside and within the building.
The construction of the new pavilion and all additions to the existing cottage integrates BAL fire ratings for bushfire protection on a hazard zoned site due to proximity to the adjacent forest of the lake reserve.
The house fulfils an ambitious criteria of providing a modest and comfortable family home whilst contending with the issue of climate change affecting Australia in this new decade.