The Victoria Barracks House is a renovation of an existing 19th century Victorian era terrace house in inner-city Sydney. The house stands in a row directly opposite the convict-hewn sandstone boundary wall of Paddington’s Victoria Barracks. Victorian terrace houses come in a variety of shapes and sizes, according to urban development stages, allotment patterns, local socio-economic conditions, topography, vegetation, microclimate and a host of other physical and social factors. There is a tendency to classify them into types, often based on layout or volumetric characteristics, but this practice can miss the finer detail that marks the DNA of each terrace house as unique.
The design of the Victoria Barracks House is focussed on a newly created lightwell, which provides the interior with natural light and creates opportunities for cross ventilation throughout, both horizontally and vertically. This time tested approach eliminates the need for costly and power-hungry airconditioning systems, allowing for natural regulation of light and temperature. Planting provides shade for further solar control, privacy and animates the interior with a dynamic texture of shadows that changes in the wind and with the passing of the sun.
In areas of new construction, openings in the building fabric have been carefully proportioned to profit from solar gain and/or shade as required, as well as capturing glimpses of local and distant vegetation, without exposing inhabitants nor the many surrounding neighbours. Previously compartmentalised spaces have been consolidated and connected to counteract the diminutive scale of the site and building footprint. In order to avoid the continuous tube of space offered by many contemporary terrace house renovations, the lightwell is positioned near the notional centre of the house. The separating effect of the lightwell is extended with the placement of full-height joinery elements creating a narrow waist between the main body of the living spaces, offering the opportunity for simultaneous occupation and supporting the normal range of domestic activities.
Inserted joinery items provide essential textural and colour dimension to the interior. The immaterial presence of the black on black kitchen is relieved by the bright copper splashback-at once a vividly contemporary gesture and an association with the enduring character of ancient cooking utensils and implements made from the same material. The original staircase, steep enough to qualify as a ladder or gangway according to current building codes, has been wrapped on all visible surfaces in matte finished panels laser cut to provide an open grid of round holes. In addition to providing a strong contemporary articulation for an item with a significant footprint in the space, the holes provide an alternative to handrails, with multiple grab points for stair climbers of all heights.
The cumulative effect of the material differentiation of the various joinery items is to make them read as installed elements, even pieces of furniture, in the interior, rather than elements which in themselves define the limits of the space. This has the effect of increasing the perception of spaciousness, a critical quality in the successful regeneration of this house.
Material Used :
1. Fibre Cement Facade - Cemintel Barestone
2. Lighting - Koskela, TossB
3. Kitchen Appliances - Fisher & Paykel
4. Sanitary Fixtures - Rogerseller