Cooks Hill Residence

Finalist, 2010 Hunter MBA Awards in the Alterations, Additions, Renovations and Restorations ($250,001 - $500,000) Category

Project Description:
The McGowan residence in Cooks Hill provides an innovative building response to the heritage constraints in this popular inner city suburb of Newcastle. Although the original residence was not heritage listed, it was located within a heritage area, and therefore architect and builder collaborated to ensure that the alterations and additions created an appropriate civic presence in keeping with the surrounding streetscape. 

The brief called for a 3 bedroom modern residence with combined kitchen/dining, separate living area and a loft area over a garage to be used as a flexible space – guest quarters now, teenagers’ retreat in years to come. Given the scope, it was not possible to accommodate the needs of the client within the existing structure and site and a major alteration was recommended.

However, despite only the boundary wall of the original California bungalow-style building being retained, there are numerous references to the architectural past of the site, both internally and externally. Bricks were re-used in the façade, providing a smooth material transition between neighbouring residences, while the timber lined ceiling spaces throughout the living areas allude to the aesthetic trends and textures of bygone eras. A similar respect for heritage concerns led to the garage being located via the rear lane access rather than at the front of the site, in order to retain the character of the existing streetscape. 

In re-using materials, outstanding coordination between builder, architect and trades was required to ensure the most efficient use of limited site space, as well as a commitment from all to overcome the sensitive detailing challenges imposed by recycled materials. Yet the result speaks for itself – a modern residence that is sympathetic to its surrounds and sets a new benchmark in the thoughtful collaboration between design and construction services. 

Architect's Comments: 
Nathan Russell successfully tendered for our project in Cooks Hill, an extensive renovation on a complex urban site. Throughout the job I found Nathan to be friendly and very easy to work with. When unexpected situations arose on site (as they often do), they were resolved quickly, efficiently and in a professional manner. The owners were delighted with their finished home, received on time and in good shape. Chris Tucker, Architect