Room with a view

Issue 33 Words: Emily Braham Photography: Ben Hosking
Coburg, Victoria
  • Old and new sit side by side in the garden room project by Tim Angus.
  • Tim and Beryl dedicated the room to her late husband, a graphic designer, but also a “frustrated architect” who loved to pore over Tim’s drawings with him.

A clear brief and creative freedom allowed architect Tim Angus to make the garden an integral part of this Melbourne period cottage with a sensitive addition that links old with new.

If you have any experience of home renovation, or have watched the program Grand Designs, you’d understand the technical, emotional and legal upheavals that regularly accompany such endeavours. But for Beryl Davis, a retired arts museum manager, the 10-month renovation and passive solar addition to her Edwardian Coburg cottage, in Melbourne’s north, was “a wonderful experience, and a real joy”.

The project architect and her son Tim Angus, describes Beryl as “the best client I have ever had. She was so supportive and just trusted me and the builder’s expertise – we all put in 200 per cent.”

So companionable was the renovation that one of the builders, Mick Plummer, left a parting gift for Beryl: an elegant rust- coloured figurine, now strikingly framed for viewing in the glazed link which separates the original cottage and the minimalist rear extension, visible from both inside and out.

Walking through the carefully restored period home provides many of these perfect sightlines. The once-dark, European-style rooms were opened up with the addition that replaced an old asbestos shed, connecting the house with the garden. On entering, there is an almost-immediate view along the high-ceilinged hallway and through the kitchen’s original window to the narrow ferny strip between the original house and the new garden room, and beyond into the garden. In the beautifully lit garden room itself, there is a view to the swaying gum trees in the nearby park through north-facing ceiling-height windows.

Not prepared to sacrifice the view or the wide overhang needed to protect the garden room from the summer sun, Tim designed the angled aluminium sunshades above the north-facing windows himself. Inspired by fellow architect and educator Glenn Murcutt, the shades are now one of his favourite features. “I love that you get the passive design benefit, but also the connection to the sky,” he says.

Shade is also provided by mature citrus and olive trees to the west. The lush ‘fern gully’ designed for the space between the buildings, provides natural cooling through the link’s double-hung windows, which allow hot air to vent out the higher section, while cooled air enters below.

The link, known as the ‘umbilical’ by the builders, means the addition, clad in reclaimed and re-milled spotted gum warehouse rafters, sits distinctly separate from the original house: “We considered joining the room on to the back of the house, but it wouldn’t have been any cheaper and there were so many benefits,” Tim says. “The view from the kitchen, being able to have the old and the new side by side, being able to use the link with the fern gully as a passive climate driver…”, the list goes on. The use of a separate building for the extension also avoided opening up the “can of worms” of altering the 100-year-old house, and allowed Beryl to remain living in the original front rooms as it was added. The careful passive design of the garden room allows light and ventilation into the original part of the house, but can also be zoned off for independent natural climate control.

The whole family now benefits from this design solution. Tim, who lives nearby, is a happy and regular visitor to the house, with his wife and one-year-old daughter. The visits are also a way to monitor his design’s performance and “fine tune” different elements. “It’s that idea that passive houses need active occupants,” he says. “I love the idea of sailing a house, rather than shutting a box and putting on the air conditioning – using nature instead.”

For Beryl, the naturally comfortable space offers a daily retreat. “I just love to come out and sit in here in the mornings– the sun is pouring in through these windows, the birds are singing – you could be anywhere.”

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Cover of Issue 33
You can read more about Room with a view in Issue 33 of Sanctuary magazine.

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Tim Angus Architect

Green World Projects, Mick Plummer and Joe Hastie

Kath Smalley, Small Spaces Garden Design

Renovation and extension

Coburg, Victoria

$300K, garden room and garden $200K; existing house $100K (all incl. GST, prof, fees).

House: 120 sqm (garden room extension 30 sqm, existing house 90 sqm)
Land: 370 sqm

6 Stars (including original house)

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