The restoration and adaption of a 1905 former army drill hall in Sydney’s Inner West, involved the careful interweaving of the building’s original details and material palette with contemporary additions to create a relaxing home to suit the new owners. Although the original building had been altered substantially and unsympathetically in the 1990s by former owners, key elements remained intact or salvageable so the design approach by Tobias Partners was twofold: restore and reconstruct the drill hall’s key details; and introduce new architectural elements that responded to the form of the existing building and site.
Key design moves involved restoring the front facade, side elevations, slate roof, interior roof form, steel roof trusses, and double-height volume, before carefully stitching in new spaces and opening the building up to the landscaped garden.
An over-scaled brick archway frames the entry at street level with large timber doors opening into the main hall where living, dining and kitchen areas flow together and connect with the large north-facing terrace and garden. Perched at either end of the main hall within the existing roof-line, two new lofts accommodate a guest suite and study, both opening on to northern terraces inset within the roof-line.
Downstairs at the garden level, the lower ground area was entirely rebuilt to accommodate a private media room, main bedroom and ensuite with adjacent casual living area, which opens to a large garden with new trees and landscaping around the renovated pool. Taking its cues from the form and materiality of the original drill hall and the site’s ideal north-south aspect, spaces open up to the breezes and the light and are defined by well-built and simple and honest materials which complement the integrity, history, and volume of the original building.