The East Fremantle House by Nic Brunsdon is a creative and sensitive addition to an existing cottage in suburban Perth. The clients’ brief was for a contextually-responsive house that would provide a functional living space while also respecting the heritage of the original home. Instead of settling on one style or theme, the team included spaces that were suitable for current needs as well as future requirements, making it both timelessly elegant and practical, too.
The design of this home is both distinctively beautiful and remarkably functional. However, the most striking aspect is a large northern void – a space for sun, light, sky, sound, and breeze to inhabit.
The north side of the addition is simple and linear, allowing for efficient living spaces on the south that bring to life a long ‘garden room’. The northern face has sliding doors that allow all sorts of life to spill out into full view across the entire site. A tall, triangular chimney for the fireplace, a curved north facing shell for an art wall, a low top-lit box for the kitchen, and a large round cylinder for a powder room are all expressed as ‘lumps’ on the southern face.
The house exists in four primary sections; the existing brick cottage, an entry link, the ground floor addition, and the first floor addition.
To the left upon entry is the existing cottage, restored and lightly amended. To the right, the garden room and living spaces which are, light, bright, and open, experientially a direct counter to the experience of the house upon entry. Above these sits the articulated eaves and master suite, a wooden box perched lightly.” – Nic Brunsdon
The ground floor addition is a combination of painted and bagged brick, or roughly thrown concrete, all of which are white. The project then utilises light framed natural timbers above a rather deliberate and articulated datum line. The hard datum threshold is broken at two points: once on the southern elevation, where the counter ‘lumps’ break through to varying heights, and again in the sunken lounge area, where the first-floor stair flicks a timber hatch down to welcome and gently strike the ground floor program’s heavy base.
“This practice’s view of sustainability is that it is best done as a first principles thing and not an applied technology. Getting the massing, orientation and subsequent program planning right is the most important thing we can do as designers of lived-in environments. More so than ever in our current context of shifting work patterns towards the home.” – Nic Brunsdon
This project shows that by placing the northern garden as the first design move on site, the building becomes secondary and deferential to this. The gardens give measurable amenity to our daily lives while showing an understanding of how space can shape patterns and rhythms in a family environment.