Snorkel House

Snorkel House manifested from a comprehensive, exciting brief from our clients; a young family in the inner north suburb of Campbell.

The critical components of their brief to be addressed concerned privacy, thermal performance and functionality of the existing house.  The existing double brick home had an entry point located more than halfway down the block from the street, meaning the family had little privacy from visitors; a poorly designed existing internal layout whereby bedrooms all faced each other, providing little privacy for the main bedroom located centrally in the house; an undersized, poorly configured kitchen and laundry which the young family had outgrown; a lack of covered parking spaces; and improving the thermal envelope of the existing double brick single glazed building were key requirements to be addressed.

The re-design has created a private north facing courtyard garden, provided a private parents retreat whereby a second sitting room can be closed off from the remainder of the house for adult ‘quiet time’, added interest in the ceiling plane, established new bedrooms that are screened through private courtyards, and formed a modest yet unconventional new address to the street frontage. These were all key considerations which stemmed directly from our clients project brief.

The large regulated tree on the neighbours block provided a great opportunity for a playful gesture to the street in the form of the ‘snorkel’, drawing northern light into a sitting room, and views of the sky and tree beyond. At night time, the snorkel emerges as an orange beacon within the domestic streetscape. The living room and ‘snorkel’ can be closed off from the children’s bedrooms and main living spaces, to become an extension of the parent’s private realm of the home.

The new children’s bedrooms have substantial northern aspect, creating spaces where the children can learn, live and grow for years to come, with direct access to the new northern courtyard.

The reconfigured open plan living, dining and kitchen space at the rear of the home provides a hub for interaction and family time, balancing other quiet spaces within the home.  The internal planning is complimented by easy access to the outdoors, especially around the new northern courtyard and timber deck that enables quick and easy external circulation from many rooms of the home.

The new entry is now located much closer to the front boundary, providing a buffer and greatly appreciated privacy for the family to all areas of their reinvigorated home.

The thermal envelope of the existing building has been substantially upgraded, with the double brick walls, ceiling and underfloor all now having high levels of insulation. Double glazed thermally broken aluminium windows and doors have been installed throughout, creating a snug home in winter, and a cool space in summer, which will hopefully have little need for the existing evaporative cooling system.

Completed 2018
Builder: Schouten Constructions
Photography: Ben Wrigley

Residential Architecture Award – Houses (Alterations and Additions), 2020