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Coogee House

The brief was to modernise an existing duplex and make the spaces work as one house for a young family and open up the existing rooms to the garden. The qualities of the existing house were to be maintained and the existing character appreciated – but modern life accommodated.

The brief was met by shedding conservative notions of rooms and their relationships to each other. The existing fabric was largely preserved, but the kitchen and bathrooms were all relocated. A new and very contemporary room housing living and dining areas was inserted at the back of the house.

The existing building’s character was amplified by contrasting it against the insertion’s strong, contemporary lines. Existing finishes such as Carara marble and oak were used in new rooms in contemporary ways to ensure cohesion.


Sustainability is addressed by retaining an existing building rather than demolishing and rebuilding. Building fabric was retained wherever possible, repaired and in places re-used in other rooms or locations (flooring, doors and windows salvaged from other rooms were re-used). New work was limited to that required to make the building's adaptive re-use possible.

The new house offers a restored art deco era façade to the street. Works to the eastern facade included stripping off a later addition external stair and inserting salvaged stained glass windows in its place. The historic character of the building is retained and improved. There is a fresh water pool.

An existing living room was converted to a kitchen, the oven placed in the original fireplace to maximize the appreciation of the old and the function of the new. Indoor and outdoor spaces were connected through new openings, but the delineation between old and new made clear and concise at all times.

An ensuite was installed in the existing sunroom. In all rooms, including bathrooms and the kitchen, ornate ceilings and details were retained. A new stair was carved through existing stacked apartment sized bathrooms. The raw brick we uncovered was retained. In places existing glass doors were replicated to maintain the integrity of the old rooms.

The outcome is a house with flow, open and airy living areas spilling onto the garden. It feels like an old house with integrity and a few clear contemporary insertions. The extent of the remodeling is understated. In doing a lot subtly and a few things boldly the result is a house of calm and comfortable contrast, with the experience of both the old and the new heightened.

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