Reimagining an iconic Frank Fox House: Bellevue Hill residence by Tzannes Associates
Originally designed by architect Frank Fox in the 1960s, this distinctive residence was extensively remodelled in a manner sympathetic to its mid-century character. The architecture successfully resolves many idiosyncrasies inherent to the existing semi-circular, partly-domed building form on pilots. New external elements are carefully integrated within the existing envelope. Except a small extension to the living room terrace, the footprint and the form of the building remain original. A new underground garage was excavated below the house and a new ground floor was inserted in place of service areas, columns and voids. The garden space, cleared of ancillary structures, now wraps around the home, bringing a magnificent Hills Fig in focus. The pool was rebuilt changing its hard landscape character to a pond-like extension of the garden.
Existing openings received new windows with adjustable vertical and horizontal louvers, sliding curved glass high performance doors, and a steel and timber awning. This provides improved solar and privacy control, better internal amenity and a more generous relationship between internal and external spaces. The existing three-quarter faceted domed ceiling above the living room has been remodelled to better express the underlying geometry and provide clarity to the internal planning. New curved joinery screens define spaces within the room, providing privacy, separation and connectivity. A new kitchen is located at the junction of the private and more public areas of the home, and between outdoor and indoor living areas.
The materials have been selected for durability, warmth and easy maintenance. They generally consist of natural materials such as recycled timber, stone and metal. The metalwork, except the kitchen bench, is in warm hues of bronzed brass.
The Bellevue Hill Residence was awarded a Commendation in Residential Architecture Houses (Alterations and Additions) at the 2013 NSW Australian Institute of Architecture Awards. The Jury Citation reads:
‘Bellevue Hill residence as reimagined by Tzannes Associates explores the existing potential of a distinctive, perhaps even iconic, 1960s Frank Fox house. It embraces its eccentricities and deftly resolves its many compromises and shortcomings to create a home suitable for 21st century living.
The original building was a local landmark on its street corner. Its circular form responded well to the site geometry, vegetation and urban context, while its bulk and scale were appropriately unimposing. It made a positive contribution to the public domain. The architects and the owners of the house wisely, and yet at considerable cost, chose to work with the existing building fabric, resolving the functional brief within its envelope and respecting its mid-century character.
Additional spaces are provided within the present envelope and with due regard to its mid-century character, yet accommodating the modern lifestyle of its occupants with provision for a range of engaging spatial experiences.
The jury felt the architect and client, in collaboration with their builder, are to be commended on the finely detailed and drafted conservation and adaptation of a challenging and idiosyncratic 1960s building – one of many buildings of this period which may not enjoy legislative heritage protection but are worthy of preservation.’
Info and images © Tzannes Associates