Elliott Ripper House

By Christopher Polly Architect

Foucart Street, Rozelle Sydney

By: Christopher Polly Architect

Elliott Ripper House, photograph by Brett Boardman

How does the project respond to its context, contribute to the public domain for example street or neighbourhood?

The form straddles the bulk and scale of a three-storey walled neighbour and a single storey neighbour located on a lower rock shelf. A response to place in two acts involved extrapolating the existing ground floor envelope with simultaneous removal of its rear site coverage to an averaged former footprint, to enable a newly defined clarity and amenity to principal outdoor areas - followed by a rear first floor extension, that extruded the previous gable-ended pitched roof form over the extent of the new ground floor.

What problems did you have to solve?

The transformation of a 1 bedroom dwelling with a single living space into a 3 bedroom dwelling with two living spaces has provided significant additional freedom for the owners and their young family to grow into.

A larger kitchen, substantial storage, enlarged laundry facilities and two bathrooms shoehorned into a relatively small footprint have amply improved their daily lives.

What was the contribution of others, including engineers, landscape architects, artists, builders and other specialists to the outcome?

An efficient structural steel solution embedded within the envelope was pivotal in resolving the overall volumetric expansiveness of the upper cathedral volume and singular rear ground open volume. Concrete straddling of numerous significant tree roots enabled clarity of newly defined rear outdoor levels and fence lines.

The builder was skilful in achieving well-drained flush door channels for the externally sliding doors, fine steel plate window hood and pivot windows.

Appropriate landscape selections of native species complement existing retained trees while a new deck negotiates a change in level from the rear lane to the courtyard.

How would you describe the value of design in relation to the cost of the project?

Surrendered floor space enables a carved expanded stair void and cantilevered balcony. Inexpensive gloss opalescent polycarbonate reflects & transmits light by day while enabling a lantern-like quality of spaces by night to emphasise the volumetric expansiveness of first floor interior forms.

Recycled blackbutt flooring stitches old and new ground floor zones, economical LVL frames a recycled blackbutt lined stair, while inexpensive walnut stain over extended existing pine flooring enriches the first floor.

What are some important sustainability aspects of the project?

  • The conscious retention of significant parts of the existing dwelling, existing ground floor bathroom location with demolished materials reused where possible to minimise new carbon input.
  • The provision of a third enclosed room for sleeping on the first floor, which provides flexibility for future use as a study for when the young child requires the larger bedroom downstairs.
  • Glazing placement for access to improved natural light, ventilation and views to neighbouring landscapes and sky.
  • High-performance low-e glazing to reduce heat loads and minimise heat loss.
  • External retractable blind to control northern solar access and heat gain.
  • A variety of differing fenestration types to facilitate passive cross ventilation and cooling, allowing warm air to be drawn out of living and bedroom areas.
  • Substantial wall and ceiling thermal insulation to improve internal comfort.
  • Recycled blackbutt timber externally and internally.

What do you consider to be the benefits of the project for the client, users and the community?

The project presents an appropriately simple and direct extrapolation of an existing archetypal form within a sustainably modest footprint. It provides a significantly expanded series of interior volumes that strengthens connections to its setting and access to light and ventilation - with extension of key existing materials to retain some memory of its previous incarnation.

Other general comments

Builder: Paul King Pty Ltd

Structural Engineer: SDA Structures

Hydraulic Consultant: Shore to Flow

Landscape Architect: Carmichael Studios with Christopher Polly Architect