Potts Point Terrace began as a three-storey heritage listed boarding house that had endured multiple unsympathetic additions over many years. Now, in line with this vibrant Sydney suburb’s re-birth, the terrace has been thoughtfully transformed back into a home, celebrating its heritage while welcoming it into the modern day.
This transformation is a marriage of traditional and contemporary building forms. A harmonious union of contrasting materials and textures, details and volumes.
The brilliance of its design is in Ergo Architecture & Interior’s modern contemporary approach to the terrace’s conversion from a boarding house back to a single residence. The entire design revolved around a new central courtyard, with the original terrace at the front, whose features were carefully restored, and a new three storey contemporary addition at the rear, which is essentially two storeys with a habitable roof space. This new addition contains a kitchen, AV room, bedroom and en suite, its design complementing and respecting the form of the original building.
The success of the design revolved around maximising space in the courtyard. This space essentially allows the two buildings to remain separate, yet connected, and was critical in creating the transition between the two (not to mention adding light, cross ventilation and privacy). So, it was a great relief to the architects when approval was granted by Council’s Heritage Department to remove the ground floor level of the terrace’s original skillion roof portion. A steel beam was installed from the original terrace to the new building at the rear to support the first-floor level of the original rear wing. A long pane of glass in the courtyard then links the old and new buildings.
“It’s a credit to the Heritage Officers at the Council. They saw what we were trying to do and got on board with the idea and the result is that the integrity of the heritage building is maintained and we could create a far more amenable home for the owners,” Chris Kokkinis, owner, Ergo Architecture & Interiors, says.
The care and attention given to the development by the owners shines through, too. Stella Doumanis was closely involved in selecting the material palette, which beautifully responds to the forms of the original building and the heritage fabric of the area; brick being the hero.
“The connection between the old and new is very much about the bricks, they’re one of the key features of the house. I did a lot of research into bricks because I didn’t really find a brick that I was happy with, that was going to reflect the look I was after - because I wanted the same bricks in the new section externally as well as internally as a feature,” Stella explains.
Stella visited Robertson’s Building Products’ showroom in Melbourne and confirmed her choice of Krause Ghost Grey bricks after seeing homes built with them. “The earthiness of the clay colours was a really big point – it’s really unique. And the texture and irregularity of the bricks creates almost an organic feel within the house,” Stella says.
But what sets this project apart it’s not only the bricks themselves, but the investment of time by JMichael Constructions and Coast 2 Coast Bricklaying in determining how they would be laid. “We created four or five different samples before deciding on the right one, in terms of the randomness of how they would be laid, the colour of the mortar, how thick the mortar was and how much of it showed,” Stella comments.
Krause bricks are used internally and externally, and look completely different in each location. A combination of the slimline Emperor bricks and standard brick sizes have been used, as well as standard bricks cut to size. Internally, they’re laid in an irregular pattern, with the mortar flush with the brick, while externally they have a raked mortar. “They have two very different looks. With the raked mortar you get that beautiful shadowing that happens during the day, but internally it has a softer look because of the way the mortar has been laid. Then, when you look at a whole wall, because of the irregularities and imperfections in the bricks it looks organic, like it has been there for a long time,” Stella explains.
“The colours also worked so well with the original part of the house, they picked up on elements of that same grey/khaki colour, and the greys we had throughout, as well as the wooden flooring” Stella concludes. Chris agrees, saying “I love them, it’s just that point of difference through the texture and the colour, and the unique proportion is also very attractive. Creating that point of difference is really important.”
And what a point of difference it is. Potts Point Terrace has become a talking point in the suburb, with many people stopping by to ask about the bricks. As for family and friends, who are lucky enough to see the full extent of the restoration and addition inside, as Stella says: “First of all it’s a ‘wow’ factor when they see the refurbishment of the old house, and then there’s that additional ‘wow’ factor as you transition to the new part and it’s, to a large part, due to the Krause bricks.”
Architect: Ergo Architecture & Interiors
Product: Krause Emperor bricks, Ghost Grey (380 x 110 x 45mm)
Krause bricks, Ghost Grey (230 x 110 x 45mm)
Builder: JMichael Constructions
Bricklayer: Coast 2 Coast Bricklaying
Photographer: Sarah Braden Photography