Jane Riddell Architects: Over Pool House was designed to allow for contemporary family life to play out beyond the formal front rooms of an existing Victorian house. The pool sits at the threshold between old and new built form and provides the element of surprise as one moves between the two distinct parts of the house.
What was the brief?
Integral to the client’s brief was the engagement of new living spaces to a pool and to also maximize the dialogue of house to outdoor space. Channeling of views from first floor into these spaces while maintaining a sense of privacy was also important. These aspects of the brief were functionally achieved by the partial demolition of the existing structure to make way for the kitchen and informal living/dining areas which have a direct relationship with the pool and garden and north light.
image © Tess Kelly
What were the key challenges?
The existing Victorian house had been added to in the 1990’s and the resultant spaces did not optimise the north orientation and were disengaged from the back garden and existing pool. The rear of the house and pool was demolished to make way for ground floor additions; informal living and dining area and Kitchen that would engage with the re-sited pool and landscape and maximize the north orientation. Similarly, the first-floor circulation was configured to funnel views down through the hanging screen into these private outdoor spaces.
The internal finishes were selected to work with the inherent moodiness of the existing front Victorian rooms which, given their orientation are rendered primarily as ‘night time spaces’. The colours are muted but brought into relief with the use of black backdrops and contrast with external flashes of blue and green from landscape and pool. The infusion of north light provides clarity to the layered nature of the materials.
Externally the slate cladding references the existing roof form and materiality, it encroaches into internal spaces to extend the perception of form. The brick tile to the fireplace is a nod to the colour and pattern of the slate. The charred timber screen reinforces black windows frames and internal joinery.
image © Tess Kelly
What were the solutions?
The addition to Over Pool house was conceived as a suspended assemblage of first floor forms, bound together by a battened screen. The screen provides both privacy to the first floor and is also a formal device, as it hangs over the pool, offering a sense of partial enclosure and intimacy. Its ambiguous volume extends the sense of space at the first-floor corridor and internal void and the varying texture of the double-sided battens filter patterned light into spaces below.
The façade along the length of the pool is fully glazed, allowing external engagement with the sequence of internal living spaces and their material relationships. Views from inside and views from outside are considered equally.
The new first floor form is held off the existing volume with a linear window that provides views into a corner of pool below. Stair and pool coincide at the junction of old and new – both conspiring to pull us up and through the house.
The underlying principle was to create a place where a family could live in a relaxed and informal way – behind the conventional façade of the period house and where they could engage with water and greenery.
image © Tess Kelly
How is the project unique?
The design of Over Pool House has enabled the client to inhabit a space that is engaged with its private back garden context and leafy neighbourhood surrounds. The connection of dining area to the pool and light drenched void provides a counterpoint to the darker rooms of the existing Victorian house.
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