Open Shut House by Wala

Open Shut House is a contemporary double-storey extension to a semi-detached Inter-war dwelling located in Kooyong, Australia, designed in 2020 by Wala.

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Description

Open Shut House is a contemporary double-storey extension to a semi-detached Inter-war dwelling that caters to the growing needs of a large family.

The original period building is one of a pair of semi-detached dwellings with Art-Deco stylings reflecting its Inter-war era. The building sits on a long and narrow allotment (10 x 60m) with a rearward slope falling 4.2m. The owners’ family had outgrown the original building and their brief called for an extension that could be future-proofed and cater to the changing needs of individual family members, particularly their 4 young adult children.

The new addition fulfils their brief to have 2 generations of people under one roof whilst allowing family members to inhabit each space in their own way. Parents’ and children’s bedrooms are housed in separate buildings connected by a central atrium. New tiered living spaces follow the fall of the land and open up toward the rear garden. Openings via skylights, large windows and courtyards draw daylight along the length of the buildings, and bring borrowed amenity into the home to strengthen the bond between its inside spaces and the outside. The split levels and atrium enable inhabitants to still feel connected visually with each other throughout the house.

As a building of significance, conservation of the front house was imperative. The new addition sought to preserve the original building’s heritage qualities by utlising the fall of the land to tuck itself behind and below the existing roofline, thereby respecting the scale and proportioning of the existing building and adjacent neighbouring dwellings. The new addition is unashamedly contemporary to distinguish itself and create a counterpoint to the old building. The result is the marriage of two “almost-separate” buildings, connected tenuously via the central atrium and its skylight wedge.

Finishes & materials for the extension intentionally visually contrast that of the original dwelling. Timber, steel, concrete & bricks are employed throughout in a unified material language. The movement between the older, austere spaces of the period building towards the more textured interiors of the renovated spaces is also delineated by this clear difference in materials.

Photography courtesy of Wala

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- by Matt Watts

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