Henry Street House


  • Eugene Cheah Architecture
  • Co-Struct
  • Area Construction Group
  • Timberbuilt
  • CH Group


In keeping with the unassuming character and intent of the original weatherboard cottage, this addition is modest in scale and budget.

The new extension is required to have generous and well-lit spaces, a challenge on this narrow terrace site.

A full-length skylight on the north edge of the space brings in abundant light, which is filtered and diffused by the exposed rafters, changing through the course of the day, and amplified by the varying depths of the rafters.

The experience of the house is of the tracks of sunlight and shadow moving across the space.

Key Features


Affordability – Efficiency and Simplicity

The project was delivered on a tight budget, which required a disciplined approach.

The tight budget on the project was embraced as a positive, to drive a more thrifty and sustainable approach to energy and material resources. The design response is distilled to its essentials.

The architectural fabric consists of the necessary elements required to structurally hold the building up – none of it is superfluous.

Reasonable access to inner city housing is a topical issue. This project examines opportunities for the considered and affordable renewal of an existing house, to serve current and future occupants.


Heritage – Context and Dialogue

The Victorian cottage is organised as a row of dense enclosed rooms along a narrow circulation route. The new extension inverts this figure-ground diagram, with a density of program in a narrow strip on one edge of an expansive open space.

The new addition is therefore an extension of, and contrast with, the existing fabric.

The cornices and roses of the existing Victorian ceilings are ornamentation and a means to define a room. This is appropriated for the extension – the rhythmic undulations in the ceiling provide figuration and delineation to living, dining and kitchen spaces.


Materiality – Innovation and Responsibility

The structure and cladding of the extension is a singular material – Australian plantation grown Hoop Pine – acting as a unifying texture.

This renewable resource is used in the form of laminated timber sheets – one of the most efficient and therefore sustainable, responsible and economical ways to use timber.The exposed roof structure is Hoop Pine laminated veneer lumber. The ceiling and wall cladding is exposed Hoop Pine structural plywood bracing. The joinery is A grade Hoop pine plywood throughout.

The result is a design expression that intrinsically links the sustainable, experiential and visual aspects of the project.


Process – Collaboration and Efficiency

The expressive structural elements created an opportunity to collaborate closely with the structural engineer and timber fabrication specialist.

No two beams are the same depth. The custom made LVL structure was achieved cost-effectively and efficiently by engaging directly with the CNC fabrication process.

The LVLs were custom cut from wide, full slabs. The resultant wastage which would normally be discarded was redistributed to create rafters of varying depths. The final form, developed parametrically to fully utilise each slab of LVL material, eliminated wastage.


Sustainability – Densification and Compact Living

The brief for the internal spaces was made more compact to minimise resources during construction and reduce future energy needs for heating and cooling.

A dense block of joinery along the Southern wall of the house allows the living, dining and kitchen spaces to be minimised in scale and area, whilst still accommodating all the required program for living.

This is the first stage in the renewal of this Victorian cottage for a present day young family, with the design future-proofed for an additional level, for when their family grows.

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