Located on a quiet residential street of Roncevalles Village area, this hundred year old, two-storey semi-detached house on Herman Avenue was renovated as a modern, spacious and abundantly lit house. Requested by client, the house was designed to improve circulation, functionality and flexibility in space, with potential future tenants in mind. Having had inconsequent interventions and interior renovations in the past that resulted in maze-like circulation, the house with enhanced spatiality now reinforces and encourages intuitive movement and circulation.
Prior to renovation, the existing interior layout of ground floor was cluttered by an uninviting narrow alley and multiple partitioned rooms that block natural light from coming in. The demolition of partition walls expanded and enlivened living room space, providing a seamless flow and improved circulation between living room and dining space that was once cornered next to a tight, underlit kitchen. Facing East and West, both living room and kitchen now welcome more natural light from filtering in and better ventilation and air quality throughout the house.
The demolition of partition walls and removal of entire existing drywall of ground floor exposed well-preserved, hundred-year-old brick wall that embraces historical charm. Preferring for sustainable choices, the client abandoned the idea of adding a virgin drywall and exposed the brick wall. The sustainable reuse of rust-tinted brick wall, along with new hardwood flooring, adds warmth, cosiness and vibrancy to a spacious living room. This accentuating brick wall juxtaposes with tranquil, bright, white-painted wall across the room that breathes modernity. The contrast but harmony between historical and modern walls is garnished by simple, streamlined, grey-toned furniture that neutralises the distinction.
The clustered, unlit basement with the most inhabitable conditions that discouraged any active use of space, was transformed into a sleek, well-lit room available for any desirable activities – dance, yoga, gallery, or study room.
The exterior façade was maintained in order to respect the existing characteristics of neighbourhood and adjacent buildings. Instead, the abandoned backyard in need of maintenance has dismantled a stairwell to the basement, relocating it indoor with security and weather conditions in mind. Preferring a sustainable action, the client required an existing tree to be remained. An addition of pressure-treated wooden deck utilises the uninhibited space and embraces a tall pine tree that once acted as an obstacle and now serves as a parasol proving shadow for gathering and interaction.
The fundamental objective of Herman Avenue renovation was to recognise and awaken the potentiality of existing space by enhancing its flexibility, functionality and adaptability and improving circulation within space. The re-evaluation of historic characteristics of the existing architecture reminds the environmental impacts of sustainable reuse of materials and responsibility of our practice as architects. The Herman Avenue House ultimately achieves the most sustainability from the least intervention to the existing environment.