Looking different

Date: 21/05/2011
Publication: Illawarra Mercury
Section: Property
Many home extensions try to closely replicate the look of the existing building, so that all the design elements blend in and nothing looks out of place.But for a home on Jamberoo Mountain designed by one of Australia’s most prominent architects, a recent renovation was a chance to completely separate old and new.The original house was designed and lived in by Don Gazzard who was responsible for conservation of architecture in Paddington and Balmain. He also designed many streetscapes in Sydney. Made up of two silver, parallelogram-shaped, corrugated iron “pods” – one with living area and kitchen, the other with a bedroom, workspace and bathroom – the Jamberoo home accommodated Gazzard and his wife and fit well into the landscape of the 43ha property.When the Gazzards sold the property, Richard Darke and Susan Ellicott-Darke loved the original structure but wanted to be able to accommodate their children and other guests with a new bedroom wing.”We have a big family and wanted to have a dedicated bedroom pod,” Ellicott-Darke says. The new concept was to build a separate pod that maintains the unusual parallelogram shape of the original structure but has a striking curved roof and is made from rust red corrugated iron.This pod is connected to the other living areas by a glazed glass walk-way.Because Gazzard was in Melbourne and unable to oversee the construction of his design, he asked long-time friend Andrew Conacher from Wollongong’s Borst and Conacher Architects to manage the approval process and works on site.

“I think the striking new design was basically Don saying that one thing is very different to the other and the idea is to have a contrast,” Conacher says.

The unusual specifications of the renovation posed the challenge of constructing a curved roof over the top of the unusual parallelogram shape but Ellicott-Darke says their builder, Kiama-based Trevor Symonds, thrived working on such a project.

The owners also had to seek out specially fitted windows and source recycled timber floors from old wharves in Ellicott-Darke’s home town of Newcastle, but she says paying attention to small details in the extension was worth it to see the full contrast between the old and new pods.

“I think the old and new sections complement each other. There are some similarities, like the glass sliding doors and modern minimalistic fittings, but the shape and colour almost has a yin-yang effect with the original house.”

“When I’m there I feel privileged and very comfortable because it uses environmental properties to make sure it’s comfortable inside no matter how wild and windy it gets outside.”

She also says the addition of the new pod means the couple can make the most of the unique getaway.

“It’s a fantastic place to have family around or hold parties,” she says. “When I’m there I don’t want to leave.”

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