Binary House by Christopher Polly Architect
Designed by Christopher Polly Architect, this contemporary single family house is situated in Sydney, Australia.
A crafted volume is carefully connected to the retained and refashioned rear of an original 1960’s yellow brick envelope to enact clear planning, cost and environmental values in an articulated binary composition – a cellular and private front to the street, with an open and public rear that expands to its landscape setting.
The original bungalow allows the cultural value of its suburban type to be preserved within its locality, while also supporting environmental and budget outcomes. Its interior carefully configures a program of bedrooms and service spaces, with vaulted skylights carved within the original roof expanding several spaces to light and sky. A sharply folding intermediary form spatially unlocks a compressed front hall while allowing the location of interstitial courtyards for light, ventilation and multiple aspects at the centre of the plan – in turn promoting an interplay of private and public rooms across front and rear zones.
The two-storey pavilion provides a volumetrically expansive double-height living area, and serves as a generously proportioned ‘garden room’ with large apertures capturing sky and landscape views. Its stair element extends the established circulation condition from the original front entry, while marking a loose threshold for the arrangement of two smaller rooms at one end of its volume – a ground level kitchen and a flexible upper floor sitting room that is adaptable as a bedroom or future study. It provides additional room for the owners to grow into, achieves improved privacy from neighbours and provides desired transparency for unfettered spatial relationships within its volume and across its two parts for strengthened connections to its place.
It employs an approach which enables strong visual connections to the existing brick character from within the new pavilion and creates a dichotomy of two differing material characters at either end within the new volume – while its binary play of considered honey and grey tones strongly reference the exterior yellow brick and grey metal of the two distinct structures. Glazing expanses harness natural light and promote passive cooling and heating, while external retractable blinds temper direct sunlight when required. A northern blade screen and a pinched-in rear profile enable greater solar access onto the generous thermal mass of a concrete wall and ground floor slab – with a cantilevered terrace edge and sculpted step element doubling as seats for enjoyment of the garden.
Photography by Brett Boardman