I love all aspects of my work; last week however, was one even better than most: I commenced work on a new project. This is where the magic happens, clients tell me their long held wish list, and my mind runs at a million miles an hour with ideas and excitement, as I get lost in my imagination and begin to visualise the possibilities.
Renovation and Restoration:
A little old 2 bedroom Victorian cottage needs my help. It’s on a small, narrow, heritage listed site, with the worst possible orientation. Yet despite all this, I couldn’t be more excited, it’s a difficult site indeed, but that’s my specialty; I can’t wait to solve its challenges. Furthermore I’m very passionate about heritage projects. Restoring these beautiful old homes saves them for future generations to admire, giving them a sense of how we once lived. This is also recycling on the grandest of scales, giving it the love it needs to last another 100 years, whilst making it fit for today’s living standards, with a modern extension to the rear.
Whilst the likes of Grand Design do a wonderful job taking you through such projects, you only see the construction phase, and it’s condensed into an hour. Instead I will dedicate some of my blog posts to taking you with me throughout the entire process: design, planing application (yes councils, yes I may get angry again), through to supervising the construction. It will give you a closer look, via drawings, photos, and videos at what’s involved and how I work with my clients to turn their old cottage that’s literally falling apart, into their dream home.
Step one involved a full day on site measuring the house to create an existing floor plan, showing me what I have to work with. For this project a planning permit is required for two reasons: the site is very small, and the house is heritage listed.
A difficult site:
My saying is: not all blocks were created equal. Difficult sites present me with a great challenge, which is what I love. My resourceful, inventive designs overcome the constraints to create unique, beautiful, yet practical home without any compromise.
I will cover in detail the difficulties I face as they present themselves throughout the process; this is a brief run down to set the scene:
Small and Narrow:
– Given the close proximity of houses on small blocks to their neighbours, the council requires a permit to ensure our proposal does not create any loss of amenity to the adjoining properties. The space to work within, to not impact the neighbours is limited, posing the greatest design challenge.
– Small and narrow blocks represent the ultimate test for an architects’ creativity. The challenge is to make the most out of the limited space available. Every square centimetre must count; there is literally no room for wasted space.
A heritage listing protects this culturally significant building from being demolished, and makes sure that any renovations are sympathetic to the original house. As a result our proposed second floor cannot be visible from the street, requiring it setback well down the length of the site, creating further limitations on the space we have to work with.
North faces the street:
The north facing side of the house is the only side that receives sunlight all day. We therefore want to position our living spaces and yards to face this way. In this case however north faces the street; only the front room of the original house gets direct sunlight the whole day. Furthermore, the house itself is blocking sunlight reaching the rear.
Stay tuned, as the next blog on this topic will cover my initial design sketches working to meets the clients wants and needs, whilst finding solutions to overcome the problems the block presents.
I hope you enjoy the journey as much as I do.
In need of some work…