In the Western Sydney suburb of North Rocks, a sustainably renovated home embraces the outdoors in more ways than one.
Shortly after architects Belqis Youssofzay and David Hart launched their Sydney-based firm Youssofzay + Hart in 2017, an exciting opportunity came knocking. Thomas and Amber Lowes, a couple with experience in civil construction, sought the architects’ help in renovating and expanding their suburban home.
The Lowes, a growing family of five, had been feeling squeezed for space in their single-story brick cottage, but the couple’s love of the community and the site’s direct access to a forested lake reserve convinced them to stay and renovate, rather than move.
In addition to more space, the clients, who also served as the builders, wanted to update the home for indoor/outdoor living—a design concept that initially seemed at odds with the at-risk site’s bushfire hazard rating, which had increased in light of recent destructive bushfires.
“It was a challenge resolving the competing constraints of fire-resistant construction with an ambition for openness, connection to the landscape, and thermal comfort,” says Youssofzay.
“The new codes mandated specifics of fire-resistant building construction, so the design process began by working through the code line by line to determine a performance case for all elements of the building. It was important to us that the building not become a bunker, and that we work with the code to achieve a design that matched with our ambition for openness and connection to landscape.”
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