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Thread: Modernising a 1930's brick facade

  1. #1
    Member Oz_developer's avatar
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    Modernising a 1930's brick facade

    My company is looking to redevelop this heritage 1930's block of 6 units into 4 larger ones, adding a fourth storey (about half the width of the third). The floor plan is rubbish so demolition would be preferable, but the facade will have to be retained.

    Some modification of the facade will be allowable, but I can't quite grasp how to add some modern touches (for the market) without cocking the whole thing up.

    Here's the facade:
    http://images.domain.com.au/img/2008...od=080208-1422

    Any ideas?

  2. #2
    Cyburbian Cardinal's avatar
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    If this were HGTV I suppose they would put in a new sidewalk, plant some shrubs, add a red front door, paint the building white, and sitck a broken pediment in each of the gables.

    From a developer's perspective I would be wanting to add balconies to the units. I don't know if that would be too much of an alteration.

    The most dated aspect of the building are the windows. At a minimu, replace these. Lighting and landscaping should help with the rest.
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  3. #3
    moderator in moderation Suburb Repairman's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Cardinal View post
    If this were HGTV I suppose they would put in a new sidewalk, plant some shrubs, add a red front door, paint the building white, and sitck a broken pediment in each of the gables.

    From a developer's perspective I would be wanting to add balconies to the units. I don't know if that would be too much of an alteration.

    The most dated aspect of the building are the windows. At a minimu, replace these. Lighting and landscaping should help with the rest.
    Full agreement here on the balconies. I think with the right design, you could add balconies without screwing up the historic character. That is difficult though. Those windows are awful. Some casement-style would look good and were common in that era. Personal thing, but I wouldn't paint the brick if it is in at least decent condition. I'd like to see it after the brick & accents have been scrubbed. The entry doors look odd as well, like maybe there used to be a stronger entry that was partially bricked over. Of course, this might be an example of post-depression elimination of expensive detail.

    And the site needs help, but you probably already knew that.

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  4. #4
    The facade rhythm is "A""B""C""B""A", which should inform the programme for the new roof-top addition. I especially like the idea that it will step back from the historic footprint: the step back should be large enough to have a roof-top deck/patio -- which appear very popular in the buildings in the background.

    I agree with Suburb Repairman about the casement windows as a replacement and the restoration of the entryway.

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  5. #5
    Cyburbian boilerplater's avatar
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    If by a "modern touch" you mean you'd like to have some new aspect to the facade that combines the old with the new, that says loudly that the building has been thoroughly modernized, you could expand on the balcony idea to have some kind of steel-framed box that cantilevers out from the building, maybe vary the extensions a little, all metal and glass. And of course that plain turf area needs something. At least put in some foundation plantings so it looks more tied to the ground.
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  6. #6
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Being a heritage item (local i assume) good luck with getting some balconies on the facade. Of course depending on the heritage listing, you may be able to fix up the windows- just depends on why the building was listed.

    Top floor addition doesnt seem like a bad idea at all- not sure if there is much more you can "facelift" the front with, unless you are allowed to render etc- which again leads back to the question of the significance of the building and why it is listed.

    Like what everyone else has said, gardens and front treatment are important visually.

    Just had another look at the picture... are those original chimneys? they may need to be retained...

    Another idea would to try and highlight the front entrance a bit more- its a fantastic feature that isnt currently highlighted enough.

    Best advice would be to get the skills of a heritage architect to help... especially going through Council

    May i ask where this building is located in Sydney?
    Last edited by natski; 09 Feb 2008 at 12:11 AM. Reason: inability to spell correctly
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  7. #7
    Cyburbian Streck's avatar
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    This is an architectural design problem. An architectural firm should be consulted. Talk to several that can show you examples of how they have renovated similiar buildings. Ask them about how they would generally approach the problem by asking them to give their suggestions on specific features. (The concept of stepping back the fourth floor is excellent - see if one of the architectural firms comes up with that idea or an even better one - they love to show you what they can do.) They may even want a few days to come up with some sketches. Reward the best firm for its effort.

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    Cyburbian craines's avatar
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  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    If you decide to include balconies, the foundation landscaping would have to be moved away from the building footprint in order to receive adequate sunlight. Most foundation landscaping typically include shrubs, perennials, and groundcover, and an occasional ornamental tree, which would look akward with a raised balcony. The first floor is at least 5' from the ground, so larger ornamental or evergreen trees might be a good idea to provide some screening for the first floor balconies. You could still have enough room to have a nice landscaped courtyard with pavers.

    I think the gable roofs could be chopped off and replaced with the pylons? theme shown on top of the main doorway. You could either have a seback at the fourth floor with terraces or you could just vertically extend the building footprint with additional floor(s) clad in either facebrick or a glass curtain wall with balconies (as suggested previously). If you decide to go with the glass curtain wall, try to continue the same elements found on the lower floors. The areas in between the balconies could use frosted glass. The niche above the main doorway could also be a location for recessed flood lighting.

    Are those red bricks within the walls or are they for removing rainwater? (forgot the technical term for those grates). I would replace the white downspouts with a color that compliments the building (red, black, dark grey, brown, or even green).

    Blue or green tinted windows with matching frames could compliment the beige and red brick color. The stone fence could also be replaced with brick that matches the color of the building as well as provide additional access points to improve circulation.

    That's just my two cents.
    Last edited by nrschmid; 11 Feb 2008 at 2:59 PM.

  10. #10
    Member Oz_developer's avatar
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    So many great responses, thanks for taking the time!

    As someone pointed out, yes this is an architetctual issue, however, seeing as you are all planners I thought it would be interesting to get a perspective from the planning side (although I have read enough of the forums to note that there are some, ahem "differences of opinion" within the planning community ).

    Especially as this building (in Kirribilli, North Sydney Council fyi Natski) is not itself a heritage item, but merely in a "heritage conservation zone". The relevant documents are the Development Control Plan and Local Environment Plan which can be found here: http://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/ww...trol-plans.asp

    Basically redevelopment of these "neutral sites" is allowable as long as they are in sympathy with the surrounding area, in particular the immediate streetscape.

    The controls are not prescriptive, which is a blessing and a curse from a development standpoint.

    If all goes well I'll be sure to post the plans in about six months.

  11. #11
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by Oz_developer View post

    Especially as this building (in Kirribilli, North Sydney Council fyi Natski) is not itself a heritage item, but merely in a "heritage conservation zone". The relevant documents are the Development Control Plan and Local Environment Plan which can be found here: http://www.northsydney.nsw.gov.au/ww...trol-plans.asp
    Ah well that makes its easier not being a heritage listed item.

    off topic- I thought the building looked like something from the Randwick area, not Kirribilli!
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Luca's avatar
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    Based on the picture, it's far from a poor building. There’s a lot worse.

    Besides general sprucing up, see if you can add a more capacious overhang over the door (in frosted glass and steel. That would make more of a feature of the poorly defined door and also shelter people fumbling fro keys in a rainstorm.

    More Bauhaus Dessau-style windows would look better (if that's allowed) and would be consistent with the general period.

    I also note that the first (ground) floor is elevated from the ground level which results in a disproportionate amount of blank brick between the grass and the first (ground) floor windows.

    If the city is sympathetic, maybe they’d let you add a course of red brickwork to ‘slice’ that excess space (about 1/3 of the way up). Something that is not too dissonant with 30s styles. Alternatively, just plant some nice, regularly flowering bushes that reach 1/3 to 2/5 of the way from the ground to the windows RIGHT UP AGAINST the walls.
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  13. #13
    Member Oz_developer's avatar
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    oh well,

    question is now moot. An older couple paid A$5.6m at auction yesterday. That's about US$500 a square foot for the land. Apparently they want to turn it into a house.

    More money than sense!

  14. #14
    Cyburbian natski's avatar
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    Well i suppose if you have the money why not? It would be a massive house in a lovely area!
    "Have you ever wondered if there was more to life, other than being really, really, ridiculously good looking?" Zoolander

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