Glass Loggia House
Allen Jack+Cottier, Belinda Koopman and Vladimir Sitta collaborated to transform the dark rear living spaces and run down garden of a grand two storey High Victorian style residence in Sydney’s inner west.
The site is occupied by a grand two storey High Victorian style residence circa 1870. Whilst the house is not listed in any heritage registers, Heritage Council documents state that it ‘appears to be the work of architect Ferdinand Reuss who constructed many High Victorian Residences in Glebe, including ‘Hamilton’ and ‘Reussdale’ on the same road.
The project gestated over a number of years, starting in 2002 with the construction of a new polished concrete swimming pool and the ongoing design of the front and rear gardens by Terragram, landscape architects. Originally a private zoo in the 1930’s, Terragram’s ‘Garden of Ghosts’ retained and reused remnants of existing sheds, and used a vitrine containing a fish skeleton and a plant filled moat as a pool fence. It is is a seasonal ‘chameleon’ with canopies of flowering wisteria, walls of rampant ivy and pyrostegia, and spontaneous emergence of tiny figs in cracks and crevices. By 2006, quirky additions and layers added over time had created a rich and magical context in which we were asked to provide an additional dining area and bedroom with ensuite to the house. We were also tasked with solving the problem of a lack of winter light in the formal living space, caused by an existing ’lean to’ verandah structure.
“We conceived a double volume glass loggia that would be sheltered from the hot western sun by an existing cypress stand, to create an outdoor room in a way that acknowledges and accentuates the grand scale of the existing building, and is appropriate to the existing conservation area.” – Allen Jack+Cottier Architects
The loggia and new rooms are designed to explore and exploit the ambiguities between what is inside and what is outside. The loggia has the feel of a surreal garden element, creating an atmospheric space for contemplation, children’s play and entertaining guests. Both the new dining room and the master bedroom have corner sliding doors to dematerialise the sense of internal space.
A stainless steel mesh curtain shading the whole northwest façade operates to transform the spatial qualities of the garden for different family functions, and changes the perception of the new and old adjoining spaces.
Despite the fact that the building is not a heritage item, it was constructed in the late nineteenth and together with its mature and eclectic Victorian gardens, is a contributory site in the Glebe Conservation Area. The design recognises the building’s heritage by:
- Demolishing non original building fabric that detracted from the appearance of the building
- Creating a transparent addition that is sympathetic to the scale and form of the principal building and constrains all of the new fabric beneath the eaves line of the principal roof.
- Adopting robust contemporary detailing using lightweight metal and glass materials in contrast to the existing visual character of the principal building;
- Minimal physical impact on the existing fabric of the house and new works enable the rules of reversibility to apply.
The primary bioclimatic design action was the re- introduction of natural daylight into previously dark and cold living spaces. Potential heat build-up under the glass roof is controlled by extensive natural shading from the west created by the existing stand of cypress. The use of low ‘e’ toughened glazing that is elevated and open on three sides allows the convective heat build-up to readily escape before affecting users below. The building complies with BASIX commitments.
Allen Jack+Cottier Architects:
The transformation of a two-storey High Victorian-style residence in Sydney’s inner west yields stunning results. Creating the Glass Loggia House
In designing this grand residence, Allen Jack+Cottier worked with designer Belinda Koopman and landscape architect Vladimir Sitta. This collaboration saw dark living spaces and a neglected garden transformed into a union of clever design and visual artistry.
From zoo to ghosts:
Sitta reused building remnants – walls, shed doors and ladders – to construct what he termed a Garden of Ghosts. Drawing inspiration from the house’s previous use as a private zoo, he created a polished-concrete pool ‘fenced’ by a quirky fish skeleton vitrine and plant-filled moat.
Inspired, adaptable space:
The home’s eponymous double-volume glass loggia, sheltered by an existing cypress stand, creates useable space, and blurs lines between inside and out. An external steel mesh curtain shades the north-west façade, transforming both loggia and garden for different uses. The Glass Loggia House received a HOUSES Magazine High Commendation Award in 2011.
Project name: Glass Loggia House
Location: Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
- Type By Characteristic: Renovation / Expansion / Extension : House, Contemporary House
- Type By Site: City / Town House
- Type By Size: Tiny House – (less than 51 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Plaster / Mortar / Masonry House
Gross floor area: 40 sqm
Completion Date/Year: 2010
Client / Owner / Developer: c/o Allen Jack+Cottier
Architects: Allen Jack+Cottier Architects – 79 Myrtle Street, Chippendale SYDNEY NSW 2008, Australia
Project Architects: Belinda Koopman Koopman, Belinda Koopman
Building Surveyor: Peter Boyce, Peter Boyce and Associates
Environmental Engineer: Roy Mock, AMINGA HOLDINGS PTY LTD
Heritage Consultant: Kate Mountstephens, Allen Jack+Cottier Architects
Landscape Architect: Vladimir Sitta, Terragram Pty Ltd
Main Contractor: Nathan Laycock, Laycock Constructions
Project Manager: Robert Laycock, Laycock Constructions
Structural Engineer: Maurice Dawson, Law and Dawson Pty Ltd
Text Description: © Courtesy of Allen Jack+Cottier Architects
Images: © Nic Bailey, Sharrin Rees