In Brisbane’s leafy suburb of Paddington, Australian architectural practice Shaun Lockyer Architects has created a contemporary and sustainable addition that provides a striking contrast to the original cottage it sits beside. Dubbed Sorrel Street, the concrete-clad extension is a deliberate counterpoint to the local vernacular while respecting the scale of the neighborhood. Sustainability and the client’s desire for limited maintenance also informed the design, which features green roofs, substantial thermal mass, LED lighting and low-E glass throughout.

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home extension with black and light wood cladding

Completed in 2016, Sorrel was commissioned by clients who wanted their suburban home reworked to better meet the needs of their children, one of whom has limited mobility. As a result, the architects altered the sloping site to create a flat lawn that opens to the northwest side. The need for flat land also led the architects to place the contemporary addition to the north of the cottage so that the main living spaces could flow out to the level garden.

Related: A 1920s cottage gets a new lease on life as an urban barnyard house

living room with light gray sectional
gray sofa facing a fireplace

“The project explores the juxtaposition between historical context and contemporary architecture within a broader subtropical paradigm,” Shaun Lockyer Architects explained. “In a somewhat controversial decision, the call was made to ‘leave well enough alone’ and make a clear distinction between the small, original cottage and the new work, keeping their respective personalities distinct.”

child writing on paper at a kitchen island
dark gray kitchen with island

The renovated, predominately single-story home is centered on the kitchen and comprises all the main sleeping and living areas on the upper level, while only the garage, storage, offices and media room are on the lower floor. To minimize energy use, the home is equipped with deep eaves and strategically placed windows and skylights for cross-flow ventilation and natural lighting. The insulating green roof and thick concrete walls help maintain stable indoor temperatures, while timber flooring and furnishings lend a sense of warmth throughout.

+ Shaun Lockyer Architects

Photography by Scott Burrows via Shaun Lockyer Architects

grass yard next to covered outdoor dining patio