James Russell, an award-winning architect whose work merges natural elements with stunning forms.
What sort of relationship does this space have with its surrounds?
I wanted this to be a place that relishes the summer storms, blocks the winter winds, sees the changing moon and smells the muddy river, all within the city. There is an awareness of climate that comes from this approach and a heightened experience and appreciation of the land we live in.
What are some of the notable features of the home?
Much of the house embraces verandah living – even in the bedroom. Weatherproof curtains and stacking doors protect against the rain and cold; slatted edges allow rain to fall through and be drained into the courtyard. Coloured and textured glass reminiscent of traditional housing in the area lines the east and west boundaries; glass in the outdoor space is staggered to allow breezes but also safeguard privacy and security. Ironbark is smooth on both sides, so is used as both ceiling and flooring in parts of the home.
How do you blend a new extension into an old building?
The first point is to find what is significant about the ‘old’ building. Add respectfully, rather than copying or altering – you want to add a layer to the history.
What’s the secret to drawing the most out of your building?
Use a limited palette to suit conditions and structural requirements.
How should you kick-start a renovation?
Start a dialogue with your architect and let them know what you want. It’s important to be clear about the site and any existing structures.
Any golden rules to building?
Keep the size modest and build to a standard that is worth altering or adding to in 100 years.
What are the most common renovation mistakes, and how can we avoid them?
Not seeking advice from an architect. All too often we see evidence of ill-conceived additions, which have to be removed to rediscover beautiful ‘old’ buildings within.