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Designing daylight in modern spaces


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This Japanese-inspired extension to a Toorak Gardens bungalow uses a sleek, modern architectural style to fill the space with natural light.

The design is bold and simple, responding to its environment and connecting the house and the young family who owns it to the brilliant outdoors.

“A building like this is designed like a kind of sculpture,” says Dimitty Andersen, of architecture firm Grieve Gillett Dimitty Andersen Architects.

Image: Sam Noonan.

Image: Sam Noonan.

The overlapping spaces created by the new extension bridge the divide between the building and its natural setting.

The materials used – mainly wood, glass and masonry – are understated and simply detailed. The overall building is composed around basic shapes, executing multiple functions.

Image: Sam Noonan.

Image: Sam Noonan.

“The mezzanine is housed in a box-like form within a large internal volume,” says Andersen.

“Although it looks really simple, it manages to position the stair, house the entertainment unit, contain the dining room and study, as well as define the side entry.”

The project brief asked for new contemporary living spaces, an extra bathroom and laundry, a cellar (where the owner sometimes plays the drums) and an office upstairs.

Toorak Gardens 5

Image: Sam Noonan.

The owners were also interested in a modern, Japanese aesthetic and wanted the building to be a link to the outdoors.

The two-storey main building has a grey, textured wall which wraps around to contain the service spaces.

A huge deciduous tree in the backyard envelopes the northern facade of the home to shade the double-height window and the building skin from the sun.

Image: Sam Noonan.

Image: Sam Noonan.

The extension is kept temperate using insulation and minimal western and eastern glazing. In winter, the sun is captured at upper and lower levels to warm the concrete slab and internal walls.

“After some concept plans and 3D exploration, we found that a two-storey building form provided a strong complementary scale to the existing tree and surrounding buildings,” says Andersen.Toorak vertical

“In this project, the existing natural and built features drove the placement of the building and spatial planning.

“With carefully placed and managed glazing, we were able to capture northern sun and use the deciduous tree for natural shading as well as a visual feature.

“The architecture is quiet. It is not busy drawing attention to itself. This imbues the house with a sense of calm and serenity.”

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