Unfurled House by Christopher Polly

Designed in 2016 by Christopher Polly, this contemporary single family house is located in Petersham, Australia.

Description by Christopher Polly

An articulated two-storey framed volume is sensitively stitched to the rear original fabric, while retaining its front Federation masonry and hipped envelope as part of its environmental, economic and planning values. It has a sectional split-level relationship to the original house that harnesses the fall of the site to the rear, enabling the cellular front plan to vertically and horizontally unfurl into a series of connected interior spaces that expand to its setting.

The built form and its program resolution respond to its immediate setting and the established conditions of the original dwelling. The two-storey volume mediates the scale and massing of its larger and smaller neighbours, with the existing southern setback extrapolated to the extent of a former rear wall and rear setback of its southern neighbour to mitigate adjacent impacts. An intermediary form folds from the underside of the reinstated rear edge of the old dwelling to meet the two-storey volume, serving as a nexus for utility spaces, circulation and a northern courtyard at the centre of the plan. Projecting ‘wedges’ at the rear further unfurl the envelope to provide ground floor storage on the terrace, a daybed nook within the ‘public’ living space, and a private reading space within the upper bedroom, for strengthened connections to its external environment.

Sustainability, cost and planning values entailed in retaining the original fabric are augmented by a modestly sized footprint and lightweight-framed envelope in a crafted ‘new build’ enabled at the rear. A central vaulted ceiling allows a volumetric expansiveness over a rigorously organised core and circulation zone, and surrendered floor area enables generously carved voids flanking an upper bridge for diverse views to sky, trees, and outdoor spaces, while encouraging a spatial interplay of public, semi-private and private rooms.

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- by Matt Watts