Designed by architect Rudi Krastins and built in the 1960s, Constable House is located in the Canberra suburb of Red Hill. The original dwelling was built on a steeply sloping block and was set largely below street level, towards the back of the property.
In the 2000s, Townsend + Associates Architects were invited to redesign and modernize the house. The project was undertaken in two stages. The first, which took place roughly 15 years ago, concentrated on the rear of the dwelling. New living and entertainment spaces were created, along with redesigned bedrooms and bathrooms, and a new kitchen. The two levels were opened up with outdoor spaces that are connected by steel and timber stairs, which also lead to the pool area.
The second stage of the redesign, which came a full 14 years after the first, centred on the entrance and front of the house. A new ‘saw tooth’ roof was introduced, along with a new entry, guest suite, courtyard, study, and garage. In addition, there is a new ‘gallery area’ that covers the dual roles of housing the owners’ art collection, and linking the font and rear sections of the house.
Importantly, the saw tooth roof not only covers the original roof, but also significantly raises the overall height of the building. From the street view, it is now similar in height to neighbouring houses.
According to Architect Bruce Townsend, Constable House was a joy to work on. The relationship between him and the builder Alan Ewer was productive, the clients were forthcoming and educated, and the project included several innovations such as the use of steel (combined with Rare Earth Magnets) to ‘hang’ artworks in the gallery.
This extended to the products used on the exterior. LYSAGHT LONGLINE 305® cladding was used on the front façade wall and also on the sides of the saw tooth roof skylights. “We used it to emulate zinc – or more specifically, the standing seam zinc sheeting – and also to maintain a consistent rib transition from the vertical to the horizontal. The materiality of it was continuous even though it changed direction. It's the only profile you can do that with,” said Bruce.
Further LYSAGHT® products included MINI ORB® corrugated sheeting (used on the bathroom tower) and KLIP-LOK® roofing, which replaced the original galvanised roof (itself an early version of the same product).
Bruce was particularly happy with the KLIP-LOK® cladding and its low-pitched, concealed fixings. “There’s nothing not to like about it,” he said.
The redesigned house, which was awarded the A.I.A. 2014 ACT Chapter Residential Award for Alterations and additions, also incorporates a number of environmentally sustainable design initiatives, including insulated double brick construction, double glazing, highly insulated roofs and upper walls, natural cross ventilation, and the provision of a roof mounted 2.4 kw PV array.
Incorporating masonry, timber, glass and steel, Constable House has been given a new lease of life. While remaining true to the essence of the original dwelling, it now presents as a re-invigorated, modern addition to Red Hill.