Cool glass extension gives traditional home a modern edge

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The Cosgriff House in Sydney, Australia designed by Christopher Polly Architect is contemporary, but not intimidating in its aesthetic, blending into the existing neighborhood while still standing out for all the right reasons. In order to maximize the usable parts of the existing house, minimize environmental impact and make efficient use of the budget, the architect reused the original building envelope and part of the interior. With tradition taking its spot at the front of the house, the back enjoys a totally modern extension featuring glass walls and opening to the garden.

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The home's original brick exterior and conventional though charming white front porch welcomes residents and guests. Its small scale makes a subtle addition to the residential landscape. From the street, you'd never guess at what's behind the deceiving front facade.

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At the rear, the towering addition adds an element of modern mystery that begs to be explored.

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The glass addition, though small (measuring just 20m2) makes all the difference in this re-design. The glazed volume extends from ground to roof, flooding the entire house with bright natural light and lush, leafy vistas.

"An eccentric roof form extrapolates the original southern roof plane to mitigate adjacent impacts - lifting to light and tree views to the east, while also folding upwards for access to northern light and sky through a sole fire-rated window along the boundary."

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A substantial living area takes shape below grade, but thanks to the sloped site, this lower level also enjoys a walkout to the private garden and alfresco lounging area out back.

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Inside, the main living space enjoys privacy from the public, thanks to its "basement" positioning on its street side. But toward the back, the exposed wall of glass transforms this below-grade space into a bright, airy and inviting area for socializing or spending some solo time. Because this is technically a basement, windows are restricted to this rear wall, but due to its large scale, it provides ample natural light to illuminate this whole space.

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This open concept living room, dining room and kitchen combo is the hub of the house, as is the case in most homes. The sliding glass wall invites interiors into the outdoors and vice versa.

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A minimalist palette of white walls is a clean, crisp contrast to the polished concrete floors underfoot. Storage space tucked beneath the stairs is concealed behind simple cabinet doors. Artful lighting adds interest to this simple style.

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The massive glazed wall features blinds to block out the light, heat and outside from interiors, or alternately, to let the outdoors in.

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But with views like these, you'll never want to tune them out entirely. The open stairwell features a full-height ceiling and is pointed toward a floor-to-ceiling glass wall framing garden views.

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Overhead, staggered suspended lights add illumination and an artistic element to this open void. Like glowing orbs, these ultra modern fixtures are an instant focal point, both from inside and out.

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The folded ceiling gets playful with shape, shadow and light.

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The upper level (keep in mind that this is actually the ground floor from the front of the house) is occupied by the private areas of the house - bedroom and bathroom, the epitome of serene spa-inspired style.

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A skylight overhead is carved into the ceiling, its deep well amplifying the light pouring in.

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The bathroom's brilliant blue floor and wall tiles echo the sky's hues peeking in overhead. A glass shower wall leaves sight lines open throughout, from the entrance to the window on the far wall.

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Here are some diagrams illustrating the unusual layout of this interesting house plan.

The lower ground floor plan:

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The ground floor:

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And a section showcasing the slope:

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Christopher Polly Architect
via Freshome
photo credit: Brett Boardman Photography

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Posted on May 18, 2013 9:27 AM

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