Project Team: William Smart, Lucy Bedbrook, Anita Panov
Structural Engineer: Istruct
Heritage Architect: Tropman and Tropman
Planner: GSA Planning
Quantity Surveyor: QS Plus
Basix: Efficient Living
Certifier: Building Certificates Australia
Landscape Architect: Will Dangar Design
Smart Design Studio is a design firm based in Sydney, Australia that is influenced greatly by the wave of modernism and the belief that form follows function. The thirty-five plus team works relentlessly to weave poetry through each of their designs by developing various textures and adding hidden meanings. The studio crafts unique solutions that mirror their clients’ visions and shape the unique personalities of their projects with the site characters and articulated structural and interior details. The studio also employs ecologically sensitive designs to fulfil their responsibility towards the environment they build in.
The project of ‘Orama’ became a great opportunity for Smart Design Studio to work with the family that they had renovated the ‘Mandolong House’ that is located on the lower north shore. The brief for Orama, an elegant Victorian villa, was to expand and upgrade the historic abode to accommodate the changing requirements of the family.
Constructed in two phases, the project considered the original house as a unique entity that consisted of formal living areas, bedrooms, bathrooms and study areas. The stunning design elements in the historic house such as the fireplaces and the paint schemes were preserved in the renovation. The areas in the rest of the villa were redecorated with fittings and fixtures that were sensitively chosen to highlight the essence of the old building.
The approach adopted for the old house was to make it look sleek, white and bespoke. In contrast to this, the design of the new addition is minimal and in its features. Textured raw concrete is used as a material that extends from the walls of the house to its garden, speckled with elements such as water (pool), vegetation, lawn and pebbles.
The core of the extension is elaborated by an attractive double height living room, with six meter high windows that frame its northern side that fill the room with natural light, thus surmounting the limitations of the south facing site. The owners’ remarkable art collection proved to be a boon as it created drama with the bare concrete walls and the plush old charm of the existing villa.
The living room space if fluid in its element, as it moves seamlessly in the stainless steel kitchen, and into the swimming pool and the garden beyond it. In the area upstairs, a guest bedroom along with a classy bathroom engages the glassy connection between the old villa and the new extension.
The design of the extension to the house has been elaborated with the same sophistication, detailing and magnificent craftsmanship as the original villa, that is applied to modern techniques of construction. The material palette of concrete, glass, dark steel and zinc is a contrast to the smart black and white scheme of the old house.
The design of the new and old house boasts of the inclusion of environmentally sensitive elements such as hydronic floor heating and cooling, encouraging natural cross ventilation and less dependence on air conditioning. The other techniques used to enhance the energy performance of the structure are heat exchange technology, utilizing the good solar orientation and a thermally massive construction.
Although the two parts of the ‘Orama’ are divided by one and a half centuries, they are paradigms of the best construction standards of their time.