The Neutral Bay house project involved the complete external and internal renovation of a mid-20th Century cottage located in a richly varied conservation area.
Dealing with the heritage considerations as well as a difficult and restricted site resulted in design solutions that were necessarily rigorous whilst maintaining flexibility for the inhabitants, a growing family with two young boys. Very little addition was possible to the existing dwelling, limited to the rebuilding of the garage, the creation of a roof terrace and ground level decks, a new plunge pool and careful interventions to the existing building fabric. Timber became a key design strategy in the re-development the dwelling, as it created the opportunity to link the existing dwelling with the new contemporary renovations. It became perfect vehicle to link both interior and exterior spaces- one of the many challenges of such a tight, restrictive site.
Various timbers were utilised in the project, including Blackbutt, Western Red Cedar, and Maple recycled from the existing building. Each timber species was strategically selected for its performance and suitability to the chosen applications, and the ability to blend in with the site’s surrounding context and existing dwelling.
Western Red Cedar is a slow growing softwood that embodies the high durability due to its dense, straight grain. This species was used in the window and door frames, as well as Garage doors as it has excellent insulation properties.
Blackbutt was used in the exterior decking, planter boxes and screen panels as well as for the internal flooring, the stair screen, and ensuite vanity top. This species of timber was deliberately chosen for its neutral, warm colouration and durability properties. The even texture, structural stability and straight grain made it suitable for both interior and exterior application, adding to the connection between these spaces.
Recycled Maple was used for the front door handle as it possesses a highly decorative wood grain and was in excellent condition from its use as the original stair handrail. Due to many plantations becoming heritage listed, this timber has become quite rare, and thus it was recycled from the pre-existing dwelling and restored.
All timber used, was treated with "Sikkens" Cetol Deck translucent coating. This helps retain the natural colour of timber whilst still protecting it from weathering.
Overall, the use and reuse of timber in both the interior and exterior applications of the dwelling was an integral part of balancing the clients brief with the preservation of the post-war history and character of the dwelling and its surrounding context