St Peter’s is one of Adelaide’s cherished leafy suburbs where avenue after avenue features grand old homes, villas and cottages facing out onto a row of gigantic plane trees.

Architect Don Iannicelli was commission to transform this small dwelling into a family home for five. The home was heritage listed, and as such the façade needed to remain untouched.  This didn’t deter Don’s desire to build a modern extension that referenced the original dwelling, yet accommodated all the needs of a contemporary large family.

‘I recall seeing the block for the first time and thinking, these challenges, the irregularity of the block, the marked slope, the context, we need to turn these into assets, we can’t let them limit us”, says Don of Glasshouse Projects.

Conscious not to overshadow the heritage architecture or disturb the picturesque streetscape, a 5m hipped roof vernacular form was designed.  Using the land’s fall to their advantage, Don designed elements of the extension to be built underground, to minimise the visual impact and provide much needed space for the family.

This careful planning meant from the street those passing by had little insight into what lies behind the original home.

A connection with the historical context came through the selection of materials, like the bluestone masonry which anchored the extension into the site and referenced the nearby villas and cottages. Offsetting the old and the new is the modern lightweight zinc cladding and the expansive windows neatly framed in black aluminium.

‘The solid base gave the extension its structural integrity, but importantly, opened up a myriad of design possibilities for the top floor, allowing us to use lightweight zinc which supported those 5m cathedral ceilings and those large panes of glass’, mentions Don.

A large open plan living and kitchen area has been designed with family living in mind, yet it hasn’t compromised on style in the slightest.  There’s plenty of space to accommodate meal times and homework, as well as family movie nights.  It’s from this communal space you have the best view of the outdoor entertaining area, pool, and surrounding garden, where soccer practice takes place.

The kitchen seamlessly opens out onto a spacious outdoor covered deck; an entertainers delight.  Don has cleverly designed a black butt timber framing to direct your vision solely to the spilling water of the above ground pool.  Giant cascading steps not only create a visual sculpture, but also connects the deck with the garden below.

Rather than taking up the most space in the garden, the pool has been consciously positioned in the narrowest part of the property.  This allows for the pool services to be perfectly concealed, and makes room for more garden and lawn where you’ll find the best spots to soak up the sun.

‘Every element of this extension was approached with the needs of the family in mind, not only for their enjoyment now, but also with the flexibility to adapt as the family itself, evolves’.

The end result is what we believe to be a clever marriage between modern architecture and the historic context.  There is a wonderful contrast, yet the two design styles seem to fit perfectly together in a similar way to a jigsaw puzzle.

You can see more of this project and other by Glasshouse Projects here

Photography: Aaron Citti