Location: Albert Town

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When we designed this house, almost a decade ago, it was always known that there would be a second stage in the form of a central pop-up second storey. But when the time came around to make it happen, the consideration of the actual form of the extension and how it adds to the original house, became a whole new design project in itself.

The Clutha River Concrete House original house was designed to be staged so that the family could build a small home straight away rather than having to wait until they could afford the larger home they had in mind. The house was made up of two wings forming a gentle gull wing structure. One wing comprised of an open kitchen/ dining/ living area, the other bedrooms and bathroom. A narrow glazed link between created a set back between the wings which provided for an outdoor living area to the north, but most importantly, space for an extension between the wings to the south.

The new design features a double car garage behind the house, which extends up to form a master bedroom suite on the upper level. From the north, this room sits balanced between the two wings below. The home now takes on a new aesthetic, whilst remaining sympathetic of the last. Upstairs, views to the north are grand. To the left are the hills of The Peninsula, with Mt Maude taking place at centre stage. Beyond and to the right lie the Hawea hills and ranges. This room sits as a periscope between its haunches – popping its head up above the reeds and the flaxes by the riverside.

The raw concrete materiality of the original house is expressed in the new extension. Although the extension doesn’t feature concrete panels like the original house, the concrete texture is mimicked with lightweight fibre cement panels. This continues the house’s grey textural finish, with accents of warm orange timber elements. Keeping the extension lightweight allowed for a cost effective build without adding in unnecessary earthquake bracing demands if we were to continue the concrete in the extension.

The benefits of staging a project should not be overlooked. Whilst staging does not suit all projects or sites, with others it can mean the difference between building the necessities now, or waiting another decade until you can afford your ‘end goal’ home. Allowing your home to grow with your family requires only a bit of thought in the early design stages to provide scope for extension later.

Photographer: Chaney & Norman Architects