Cheltenham is a 1950s suburb dropped carelessly onto a landscape of bushy valleys and urbanised ridges. The house was an archetypal red brick bungalow with its features intact: the concrete front porch, the separate formal living rooms and kitchen, and the long corridor leading to the bedrooms.
The most distinctive thing about it was its blithe ignorance of its beautiful setting. The house looked straight into the suburban street, while the back, which featured stunning valley views and towering pines and eucalypts, was ignored. The house was dark and close.
The design solution for the young couple and their future family was to turn the house around, open up the back and sheet it in glass to bring in the valley and make it the house’s raison d’etre.
The street was screened with a small courtyard garden, so that the front rooms had both privacy and a green outlook. The volume was also expanded by opening up the main floor to a family room underneath, with the stairwell creating a visual journey out into the trees and back again.
The galvanized steel columns were left in the raw, echoing the organic texture of the eucalypt skin in the trees framed by the new windows. Presenting a bold textural statement of separation, the columns run between the original footprint of the house and its integrated additions.