East Fremantle House by Nic Brunsdon

  • East Fremantle House by Nic Brunsdon sees a sustainable, contextually sensitive addition onto a humble heritage brick cottage in Perth that responds to the northern garden and narrow site.

    Nestled in a quiet suburban street in East Fremantle, Nic Brunsdon’s most recent home acknowledges a family’s stages of life in the considered balance of shared and private spaces and indoor-outdoor integration. East Fremantle House invites a tangible connection between the family who lives there and the surrounding garden through unconventional spatial planning and sustainable practices in line with the sun, light and breeze.

    There a two distinct entry points to the East Fremantle home, through the heritage Federation facade of the red brick home – still perfectly intact – or through a new entrance on the right side of the home, where the old building meets the extension. Designed with the ever-changing patterns of family life in mind, Nic Brunsdon has ensured each space can flexibly transform over time to embrace the needs of its inhabitants through a proactive design approach. While the family of four is currently occupying the front part of the house, a bedroom suite on the upper floor provides an additional place of retreat should it be required as the young family grows. “The resulting house is breathable, functional, and responsive to the stages of life,” Nic says.

    The home is divided into four parts; the existing brick cottage, an entry link, the ground floor addition, and the first-floor addition. Nic explains the entry link acts as a mediating point – the connective tissue between the elements. “To the left, upon entry, is the existing cottage, restored and lightly amended,” Nic says. “To the right lies the garden room and living spaces which are light, bright, and open – experientially a direct counter to the experience of the house upon entry.”

    Nic Brunsdon designed a designated curved art wall in the dining room, now housing a colourful piece by Perth-based artist Jordy Hewitt. The dining space also features a custom-made dining table by Nathan Day with District dining chairs.

    A drop-down living room introduces a Mid-Century sensibility to the contemporary home, creating a comfortable, semi-formal room for the family to relax in a more private, yet just as open setting.

    A simple, linear structure nicknamed ‘the long garden room’ by the architects faces north and plays home to the light-filled kitchen, dining room and main living area. White bagged brick interior walls subtly pay homage to the heritage exterior in this space, imbuing a sense of tactile warmth throughout. Polished concrete flooring and vaulted timber ceilings lean into the pared-back, relaxed aesthetic of the home, where every material has been carefully selected for its tactile contribution to the palette.

    Nic says the decision behind this extended room was to allow the architecture to become secondary to the garden, placing emphasis on the relationship between nature and the built form. “The northern face of these spaces is lined with sliding doors, allowing the whole space to open up and the life of the house to spill out and occupy the full width of the site,” Nic adds. This layout allows a soft breeze and generous influx of natural light to pass through the main living spaces.

    The architects experimented with colour in the second story of the home, with each bathroom and bedroom painted or tiled entirely in a solid hue.

    Nic’s view on sustainability is that it’s best implemented at the fundamental stages of the design process, and not an applied technology. “Getting the massing, orientation and subsequent program planning right is the most important thing we can do as designers of lived environments,” he says. “More so than ever in our current context of shifting work patterns towards the home.”

    East Fremantle House by Nic Brunsdon demonstrates the importance of establishing an inherent connection to nature by incorporating the garden within the architecture. As Nic puts it, the garden gives measurable and appreciable amenity to the project, enhancing the quality of daily family life.

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