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Willoughby Road House

17 Feb 2015 by In Building Design

The Design Brief

The owners bought this house as their forever home. It is located in a lovely spot with distant water views towards Terrigal and Wamberal beaches, is close to good schools, shops, and restaurants, and is on a huge (1100m2), suburban block on the high side of the road. 

The house, however, wasn't quite suited to the needs of the family, and was suffering from a few key issues, as well as being a bit too small, and generally dated and in need of some refurbishment. 

The house sits toward the rear of the site and looks over a large, north-facing, sloping front garden and views toward the ocean. The ground floor includes a tight double garage and a multi-purpose room, whilst the upper floor encompasses the house's primary living areas, bedrooms, and bathrooms. The front of the upper floor of the house is spanned by a narrow deck onto which several sliding doors open, whilst the lower floor is dominated by the double garage. The multipurpose room on the ground floor is disconnected from the rest of the house having no internal access to the upper floorexcept via the garage.

The first floor deck and primary living areas are accessible only via a winding side path which is not clearly visible, or through an internal stair at the back of the garage. For this reason, one of the biggest design issues was the house's lack of a front door (literally!) and an unclear path of entry for guests. 

Furthermore, the house currently has no outdoor living space and only partially takes advantage of its northeastern views. The existing deck is too small too accommodate armchairs and has no capacity to cater for outdoor dining, and the kitchen is cramped, lacking storage space, and very dated.

At the rear of the first floor the three bedrooms are very small and share one small, internal bathroom. Although these rooms have views of the rear garden, which climbs upward at the rear of the block to be almost at the level of the bedrooms, the house currently provides no direct access to the garden, and instead requires one to exit the front of the house and walk around to the rear along the side path. 

The Design Solution

The Design Proposal

The design process began by clearly identifying the clients' needs, tastes, and a close examination of the constraints of the existing building and site. The house's unusal arrangement meant that the primary need was for the need for clear and easy access to the first floor living areas including a new entry, as well as alterations and additions to the existing bedrooms for increased space. The house as a whole also needed to develop an engaging and workable relationship with the garden.

Design Intentions

To create a comfortable family home with plenty of indoor and outdoor living space, a clearly defined entry, a good connection with the front and rear gardens, and maximised views of the ocean to the east and southeast.

The scope of the project was designed to reflect the long term intentions of the family and provide for the satisfaction of their changing needs over a period of up to 25 years. 

The design required to be developed so that it may be implemented in stages according to available budget and appropriate timing, and so that the clients may remain in the house throughout all construction works. 

The Concept

The clients bought this house after moving home from several years living in Queensland. They loved the traditional Queenslanders they spent time in whilst residing there, and particularly liked their detailing, large outdoor living spaces, and the vistas inherent with living a level above the street.

Given the existing building's flipped floor plan and elevated nature, the project was approached almost as if it were a Queenslander. We began by denoting a large, welcoming entry stair and instating a generous wrap around verandah with plentiful covered outdoor spaces to relish the view, relax, and entertain within. We then disintegrated the first floor frontage so that the primary living areas opened directly onto these new outdoor living areas, effectively increasing their footprint without changing the main building structure in any way.

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