Northbridge Californian Bungalow

Northbridge Californian Bungalow

Californian style, Japanese influenced, Australian setting

Jason and Fiona came to us needing to turn their small Californian bungalow into a spacious home for contemporary living, suitable for their growing young family. Located on Sydney’s leafy North Shore, the site enjoys views of the historic Cammeray Bridge and the distant North Sydney and City skylines, but the existing house did not take full advantage of this potential.

To begin, the main bathroom & the laundry were shifted away from the rear of the house, freeing up the prime area for living spaces. The new living & dining room now stretches the full width of the rear addition and a horizontal band of windows takes full advantage of the views. The more dramatic move however, was the proposal of wrapping the extension around a new pool and deck. Influenced by Japanese architecture (itself an influence on some versions of the bungalow style), the transition between indoor and outdoor living spaces and then between those outdoor spaces and the landscape, is blurred. The house evokes two pavilions with a landscaped pond in between, with views through the outdoor space from one living area to the next.

Dense native planting on the pool’s edge creates the sense of the Australian bush forming a fourth wall to the pool area. The new pool & deck have become an integral part of the home, directly connected to the living spaces. The family now enjoys eating their meals on the deck on warm summer evenings with the pool lapping at the edge beside them.

To create this outdoor living insertion, the rear wing of the house was separated from the main house via an enclosed walkway. This move allowed for the separated living spaces to now capture northern sun, particularly in winter. The pool now also has access to northern sun, where the original pool was overshadowed by the house. The layout of the rear addition also allows for better cross ventilation as breezes are able to move across the pool’s surface bringing cool air into the house.

The design was a somewhat atypical solution to the need for an expansion to a Californian bungalow home, however PWA successfully saw it through Council, demonstrating that it would be a more environmentally sustainable approach. Ultimately it achieves superior amenity for this family home compared to a traditional attic extension or a rear wing living area that continued to face south.

Although the design solution would seem to suggest that a rather large extension was needed, PWA achieved what in reality is a subtle addition as viewed from the street. The integrity of the Californian bungalow is maintained by carrying through the roof form and the external materials. It does not appear as a significant addition, such that when you enter the house itself and come into a huge space with high ceilings and abundant light, you are surprised that it all fits in there.

On the western facade, facing a side lane, PWA designed a sympathetic entry portico to signify a new arrival point, rather than using the traditional front door on the street frontage; this served to privatise the front of the house, separating it from the communal spaces. Residents and visitors alike, as they enter the house, see straight through the glass sliding doors that wrap around the pool & deck and are greeted with the view of the water and the landscape beyond.