A Sensitive and Generous Addition

​​​​​ Photographer: Joe Grey​

Sometimes, finding a suitable solution to introduce contemporary living standards into a heritage-listed property with a mismatch of modifications can seem daunting. Often times, the solution can be as simple as engaging an architect to guide you through the journey.

The owners of the Signalman's Cottage in Battery Point had lived in the property for eight years, exploring ways to improve the liveability​​​​​​​ of the house by increasing access to sunlight and views to the garden and a neighbouring park.

Unable to find a solution, they considered putting the house on the market, however engaged 1+2 Architecture to help them work through the issues in a last-ditch attempt. The result is an award-winning transformation that, in the words of the Tasmanian Architecture Awards' jury, has created 'a rich, intricate and layered architecture that is referential yet without pastiche'.

Nestled next to Princes Park, home to the former Mulgrave Battery, the original stone section of the building was built in 1853 to house the signalman.

Over the years, the stone building has been heavily modified. In the 1870s, a new Georgian-style entry was added to the western side of the building; in 1906 a large brick extension was added to the east  and a Victorian-style verandah was introduced; and in the 1980s further additions were incorporated.

To assist their investigations and understanding of the evolution of the building and the significance of individual elements, 1+2 Architecture sought advice from heritage consultants, the local council and Heritage Tasmania.

“We worked with the heritage authorities to understand what was of low or no significance that could be removed, and to develop a number of principles to guide the approach of the new work," explains architect Cath Hall.

“Beyond removing intrusive elements introduced in the 1980s, the principles defined that the new work should be subservient, lower in height and sympathetic and interpretive in scale and form. As the main façade faced the waterfront, it was agreed that the street end should read as the backyard.

“These principles  guided decisions as we responded to the owners' brief to create sunny and contemporary living spaces that connect to outside, updating kitchen and bathroom amenities, providing parking and restoring the veranda and stonework."

The removal of the 1980 additions, carport and garage allowed sufficient room to create a single-storey extension that provides an open airy living space, maximising natural lighting and connects to the garden and Princes Park.

Inspired by colonial drawings of the area, the new additions reference the outbuildings that historically occupied the site.

The extension includes lower verandah-like forms to increase the floor area without increasing the bulk, and the addition of the chimney references the memory of historic kitchens out the back."

 Photographer: Joe Grey
As a further reference to the past authentic telegraphic signals have been cast into the top of the new chimney.

 
The simplicity of the form of the extension hides the attention to detail in both design and craftsmanship. The internal space is subdivided through a change in ceiling height and treatments, folding up to capture the northern sun, and the warmth of timber battens softens the space both visually and acoustically.
​​​
Photographer: Joe Grey

 
The old front door, once facing the signal mast, remains behind glazing yet may still be used for privacy – proof again that sometimes the simplest of solutions can create the most rewarding outcomes.

 
With thanks to 1+2 Architecture and Joe Grey

 

Postscript:

The signal station at Mulgrave Battery formed one of a chain of stations along the River Derwent to track and inform the town of local shipping movements. The station initially used coloured flags to communicate messages, and in 1829 moveable arms were used. This historical image shows the 'arms' in action.


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