A project home perched on the eastern spur of Linden in the lower Blue Mountains, sat partially completed in 2003.
The new owners, a young couple, decided after suffering through several cold winters, it was time to renovate the house into a thermally comfortable family home.
The clients originally wanted to maintain the two existing pavilions: one for guest accommodation and the other for an office and ancillary spaces, and to create a new dwelling to the east.
This would increase the floor space to accommodate a family and capture the surrounding bushland and easterly views across the Sydney basin to the harbour.
Alexander Symes Achitect proposed an alternate way of thinking about the site with the main principles of respecting the bushland at the core and - reusing as much of the existing built form, services and structure as possible - to reduce waste and manage costs.
This reinterpretation of the existing "L-House" was created reusing the north-eastern pavilion for the parents, flowing to a new central family link, which would navigate the level changes in the landscape to connect with the existing east-west pavilion, housing the children's area and ancillary spaces.
This consolidation created a single eastern elevation where the sweeping views could be appreciated from multiple living spaces.
Conversely, the L-shaped house formed a new western entry to the property to curate the appreciation of the natural bushland setting as you enter the site.
The low window-to-wall ratio on the west enabled a celebration of the sleek zincalume cladding, which provides a striking contrast to the natural bushland.
The material also serves a greater purpose: fire protection. The close proximity of the natural bushland meant the external envelope had to be robust and non-combustible in order to meet the highest level of bushfire protection construction.
Builder Blue Eco Homes effectively wrapped the house in zincalume cladding with bushfire rated hardwood used as feature elements to soften moments of connection.
Many initiatives were undertaken to ensure L-House provided a high performance thermal envelope for its residents to cope with the extreme heat and cold of Linden.
These included: stripping back the old pavilions and completely reinsulating, using thermally broken window frames and lowering the window to wall ratio.
This means L-House has a lower peak demand which in turn reduces the overall residential demand on peak days, which Ausgrid estimates increases the size of their power stations by 147 per cent and is a key initiative on moving to a greener grid.
The design and construction teams worked in an integrated manner to manage the complexities of environmental protection, bushfire mitigation and the re-use of services and structure.
The outcome is a highly crafted home that celebrates its natural environment and delivers a low energy comfortable home.
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