Heritage properties given new life 



The Rolls Royce Silver Ghost motor cars from the very early 1900s are vehicles of astounding beauty, and with their luxurious leather upholstery, considerable comfort. While mechanically they were state-of-the-art for those times, judged against modern vehicles they were incredibly inefficient juggernauts. But oh dear, so beautiful …

The term heritage is used a great deal when describing older buildings, but here at Crush we find appeal in many older styles and eras, be it Colonial, Edwardian, Federation or indeed, some of the unique styles from the mid twentieth century.

Some properties, perhaps because of their architectural or historical significance, will have various degrees for heritage listing restrictions placed upon them by local authorities. These restrictions will define limits on what can and can’t be done during any renovation proceedings. In many cases, it will be imperative that the original façade is maintained and further, that contemporary modifications and additions will blend effortlessly . At Crush Architecture we have significant experience in working within such restrictions, while still creating dynamic design solutions.

Alas, as with the Silver Ghost and most other vehicles of its time, modern efficiencies were often sadly lacking in buildings from these eras.

Older dwellings invariably paid little attention to sun-capturing orientation, had virtually no insulation other than whatever materials they were constructed from, often had bathrooms at the back of the house next to the laundry and facing the rear yard, and kitchens were usually centrally located, compact, and inefficient. Construction was in general aimed at beauty in formal areas and minimalist functionality elsewhere. Heating was achieved by shear brute force to overcome design inefficiencies and lack of insulation. Fossil fuels were the go-to choice, and climate change a phrase that was yet to appear.

Lifestyles have changed radically over the past hundred years, with ensuite bathrooms, family living areas and home office spaces, to name just a few of the more significant developments. Space behind a house, be it terrace or freestanding, is now seen as a valuable extension of the dwelling into the outdoors. Rear space provides an opportunity to uplift the internal space by creating an intimate connection with the environment and resultant feelings of calm and freedom. Likewise, huge advances in technology now provide creative designers and builders with hitherto unachievable opportunities to create livable, efficient and functional space for the current age.

Such advances also enable dynamic and imaginative designers to bring older constructions into the modern age with such things as efficient insulation for both heat and sound. Moreover, sustainability is achieved not only in the selection of construction materials, but in their imaginative use as part of the design solution.

Creative yet sympathetic design can ensure that relocated bathrooms, and re-imagined office spaces blend seamlessly, as if they had always been there. An abundance of heritage suppliers allows renovation of older areas to exactly match the original in every detail, enabling us to fully respect the original in the process. Where the original is unknown, we have an opportunity to creatively incorporate sympathetic contemporary design.

Renovations or extensions to create modern living spaces that adjoin heritage space can be so imagined that they flow effortlessly, the one seemingly a natural extension of the other. Creative orientation, appropriate use of hi-tech glazing, use of high thermal mass materials, appropriate yet discrete use of solar panels and batteries can all combine to create a contemporary space that not only complements the old, but adds to it, becoming an energy engine room, that supports the complete dwelling. A sustainable heritage dwelling – made possible with modern materials and clever design. This is at the heart of the Crush philosophy.

Older style buildings, be they residential or commercial, sit well with their original façade, and within, the old-world charm and grace of yesteryear transitioning seamlessly to the efficient functionality of clever and appealing contemporary design: each one comfortable in its own right, each one complementing the other, the whole now greater than the sum of the individual parts.

May 9, 2023

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