How do you respond to a renovation brief that requires specific considerations for human and animal liveability? Atlas Architects have achieved it seamlessly and if you ask them, it turns out it’s all about flow.

‘Our vision was to create a home where functionality is a thread woven with comfort, light, history and homely joy,’ explains Director of Atlas Architects, Ton Vu. ‘Spatial and functional requirements for the client’s cat, Dot, related to playing, eating, access and litter were an important part of the design brief.’

Dot required access from the front yard to the back, and between the laundry and living space for days when she is left alone – hence cat doors were inserted discretely throughout corners of the house. The laundry room is dedicated entirely to Dot’s comfort and folly. Custom joinery designed specifically to accommodate her litter tray, food and storage is elevated off the laundry floor, while the north-facing bookshelves in the living room act as a ladder she can scamper up and keep watch on the garden through the rounded porthole.

Aside from Dot’s design specifications(!), the existing building was riddled with structural problems that impeded on spatial choreography. ‘The old house was a combination of a two-room heritage brick building with asbestos-clad lean-to structure,’ Ton explains. ‘The existing brick building was only supported by a shallow bluestone footing and had significant cracks throughout the internal and external walls.’

Though Ton was committed to designing new additions in harmony with the pre-existing elements, a near-entire demolition of the back of the house was required. The shape of the existing roofline informs the rear facade, the ceiling line and the rear awning, while the existing brickwork and plaster textures were left exposed along the corridor as a gesture towards the peeling layers of the house’s history. Cast in the triangular silhouette of the cottage’s original peaked facade, the rear awning references the same visual dialogue between the old and new dwelling. The final structure is a delicate balance of contrasts between materials, colours and angles.

In addition to the new extension, the original Victorian home was also restored extensively as part of this renovation. The architects worked with Resicon Master Builders to reinforce the bluestone footing in the original part of the house with concrete underpins, future proofing it for years to come. With this careful renovation and restoration project, Atlas Architects have breathed new life into this much loved little home, ensuring it will stand the test of time – in both human and cat years!

See more projects by Atlas Architects here.



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