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Roof design by Object Subject

A roof that twists and sweeps bucks the single-storey renovation trend

Jan 30, 2018
  • Article by Natalie Mortimer

The wedge-shaped extension by Object Subject shows how an architect can answer a relatively simple brief for a residential add-on with a design that is delightful for its occupants and intriguing for lucky visitors.

Contemporary single-storey renovations tend to follow a similar formula. Knock down the back of the house and add a seamless extension with a new box for an open-plan kitchen, dining and living space. This is a functional means of increasing the footprint. What it often lacks, however, is a sense of drama.

In its extension of a single-storey double-brick dwelling in Melbourne’s beachside suburb of Brighton, Object Subject has created a dynamic relationship between old and new. Rather than a homogeneous box abutting the existing pitched-roof dwelling, the light-filled extension emerges at the end of a dark narrow corridor.

It’s characterised by a dramatic ceiling clad in cedar battens that appear to twist and sweep in a masterful optical illusion. The curved appearance is a clever trick of geometry, for the ceiling is made entirely of straight lines sculpted to match a digital model.

Object Subject's wedge shaped roof renovation

The front four rooms of the existing house have remained intact while one room has been altered to include an en suite and walk-in robe. A small lean-to at the back of the house was demolished to accommodate the new addition, which extends to within a metre of the southern boundary.

Object Subject director Michael Barraclough explains that, despite the distinctive result, the brief was quite conventional. “The client wanted to get more light into a south-facing block and create a living/dining/kitchen area, but they didn’t want it to appear like a uniform box,” he says.

The architects’ response required negotiation with the geometry of the gabled roof. The extension begins with a skillion roof profile at one end and seemingly twists into a flat roof profile at the other. “We were quite keen on a form that was not only visually dynamic, but also had some relationship to the program underneath,” he says.

A wedge shaped roof by Object Subject

While many rear extensions result in a generic 2.7-metre flat ceiling, Object Subject has maximised ceiling height to create a soaring space above the kitchen where much of the activity occurs, and a lower ceiling in the living area.

North-east light is captured through the reorientation of the rear plan into a wedge shape – the main glass façade of the extension opens to a timber-clad courtyard to the north-east, instead of the south.

“Unlike projects that are complex for the sake of complexity, this project is the result of a series of quite pragmatic considerations, such as the north-east glazing, indoor-outdoor living and responding to the existing gable roof geometry. The complexity is simply a by-product of trying to synthesise these considerations into one coherent form.”

Photography by Shannon McGrath

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