The concept of Totoro House is heavily inspired by the strong family bond of the clients, the connection between its occupants and their relationship to the landscape.
Parts of the extension are pulled outwards to form the outdoor living, cooking and seating area, softening the threshold between the house and courtyard.
A circular motif is extended from the dining area to the living space window overlooking the rear courtyard.
This gives the house a sense of serenity during quiet school days while connecting the home to backyard family sports in the evening.
The house can be seen as three different zones: private quarters of the existing house, living space in the new extension and the courtyard and garden.
The existing house has two bedrooms - a master bedroom with ensuite, a guest room and a bathroom. Although all the spaces have been rejuvenated to match the standard of the new extension, its layout has not been significantly changed with the exception of the main bedroom.
The new design incorporates a large circular window that frames the view of the outdoor living space and backyard as inspired by the Japanese concept of shakkei - borrowing scenery.
Part of the window can be opened to allow for natural cross ventilation. The frame itself also acts as seating for young children. The room is fitted with two layers of blinds, both solid and translucent, to allow for maximum control of privacy and light. Initially, there was a disconnection between the original house and rear yard that hindered the ability of the clients to connect to the garden.
The new extension establishes itself as what was a missing link, between the original house and the rear yard, through a gradual vertical transition that navigates occupants from the private bedrooms to the outdoor spaces and garden.
The form of the new social spaces to the rear was designed with context in mind, ensuring no adjacent neighbour lost amenity or privacy.
With the new extension mostly hidden from the street, glimpses of the playful space beyond peek out from behind the retained federation-period home.
The result is a garden with native plantings and climbing plants that will eventually wrap up and over the master bedroom facade.
Careful consideration in terms of material use is evident throughout Totoro House.
Specific calculations were made so the exterior brass cladding around the circular window could be achieved with only two standardised sheets. Off-cuts were then incorporated as part of the design.
Existing materials were consciously reused to their full potential. The demolished sandstone foundations were reused in the garden, maximising the material's lifespan, and reducing site waste.
A 3kW photovoltaic system and 8000L rainwater tank also reduce the environmental impact of day-to-day life.
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