Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office | Yellowtrace

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Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office Yellowtrace 03

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Photography by Mary Gaudin.

 

The wildly talented Telly Theodore, founder of Telly Theodore Allied Office (TTAO), has completed an impressive renovation and extension to a modest 1920’s heritage home in Sydney‘s Penshurst, working from A to Z across everything from foundations to art selections. Luckily his clients, Calida Projects founder Robert Camacho and family, weren’t afraid of a challenging build, namely a dramatic 8.5m drop from street to the rear. Theodore excavated the steep backyard to create a grand new extension with 4.7m high ceilings, clad entirely with sleek black long format Danish bricks. I’m sure you’ll agree all the hard work certainly paid off.

Theodore was conscious to respect the local history of the site. The clients’ families have lived in the area their whole lives, stretching back to when cow paddocks, rather than apartment blocks, lay beyond the house. Aside from idiosyncrasies, Theodore cites a nearby Sydney Water tower as providing the ‘no-nonsense’ inspiration behind his use of dark clinker brick that makes the project so distinctive.

The lower level new structure works in harmony with the upper level old house, connected by an entryway landing midway between the two. Heritage features such as original cornices are retained upstairs – an engaging contrast to the industrial nature of the modern extension, with its exposed timber rafters and brick walls.

We recently caught up with Telly Theodore about the process and inspiration behind this awesome project. Read on for what he has to say!

 

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace
Photography by Tom Ferguson.

 

+ Did your client provide any specifics for the design brief?

I had worked on a couple of projects with Roberto Camacho from Calida over the years. We had and continue to greatly appreciate what each brings to a project, and he always did the classic “when I find a site I’m calling you up” thing. Here we are, almost 7 years later.

They’re dream clients really – with a lot of guts. They bought a site that they knew needed complete re-thinking. They also stipulated from the get go that they wanted to go from foundations right through to art selection. This really helped with keeping the balance of things looking sweet by the end.

The existing house had to be kept due to Heritage aspects. By virtue of how the house presented in relation to the site, certain fundamental decisions had to be made to ensure what was built took every possible advantage of a difficult and steep site. Being a builder, luckily my client was aware and prepared to see things through, including carving up 2 storeys of their back yard to get to usable level ground. It was so precarious at one point that their daughters refused to visit the site because they were really scared of the hole (as they put it).

The dark bricks selected seemed to underscore this new situation, as suffice to say I was feeling a little nervous at this stage as well.

+ What was the design concept behind the project – any particular references you drew from?

A few too many really… and how can that not be in our over-saturated world.

From the August Hans van der Laan being a definite touchstone, through to the Orangery at Belton House. We knew we would end up with a rather breathtaking space with the excavation proposed. This became a focus in not only how to execute it, but how it would feel placed next to what is a humble structure.

Our decisions were that ultimately, the new bit had to tie in with the old bit seamlessly, while respectively keeping the old and allowing the new to do its own thing. And by the grace of a steeply sloping site, we could achieve the great dame humping a chihuahua (as Hannah Tribe puts it!) without too much of an imposition.

 

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

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Photography by Tom Ferguson.

 

+ How did the history of the site inform your design?

My clients found this rather idiosyncratic site because they’ve both lived within the vicinity all there lives – including both sets of parents who live streets away. They’re a close-knit bunch. Sanja’s mother even remembers when there was a cow paddock just beyond where the house is.

Did I mention the Sydney Water structure up the road from the house as well? For some reason this stuck out. You know what they’re like – civic things that present big, but are not at the same time. The manner in which it unapologetically articulated its bulk was refreshing even though it was perhaps 100 years old. That stout, no-nonsense pedigree were qualities I thought would be good for our project. And it used the same dark clinker brick as the house. As a touchstone of where we were heading – this suited us.

+ What was your inspiration behind material choices, particularly the use of brick?

The selection of brick was a complete exercise in itself. I could not find anything locally that fit the bill. I did source brick from China that Ai Weiwei used in his studios, to try to save costs. We settled on a Petersen brick, as it was impossible to avoid. Once we had a mock wall up, it fit seamlessly. Everything else simply flowed from this decision.

The brick had to complement and be the hero, at the same time as having to take a backseat and let the existing pointed brickwork (which was restored) sit as it’s always done at street-level. We didn’t have much choice as it is within a Heritage Conservation area – so hands were somewhat tied here.

However, we had ample opportunity once beyond this prescribed public face to introduce an entirely different world. Choice of material had to be special to support what we were trying to create.

 

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

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Photography by Tom Ferguson.

 

+ Your favourite thing about this project?

What stands out for me is the big space out the back. And by that, I mean both the internal and outdoor space. It’s grand, of course, though there’s an intimacy that cannot be conveyed in photos when you are there physically.

A lot of attention was paid in getting as many things resolved for this space to achieve a comfortable ambience. For instance, careful articulation of recesses, raked brick joints and the exposed timber structure above helped greatly with reverb, so that the space sounds like you would expect in a home.

The new entry sequence to get to this space was also something we’re all particularly happy with. You come through the front door, now placed along the flank of the house, into a landing mid-way between the level below which contains all the communal activities, or above that holds all the bedrooms.

It’s an almost equal split, diminishing the size of the staircase needed to get from top to bottom. Did I mention it’s a 4.7m high space?

+ And the most challenging aspect?

At the end of each project, it’s always the amount of bloody time. I wish they could go faster – but these things take time.

We had a couple of site challenges. The big one was finding we had a sewer main that needed to be accommodated between the pool and terrace above – and oh! – a full height manhole along it somewhere. That was challenging. Interestingly I am doing another similar project right now. It’s a thing with difficult and steeply sloping sites – the unexpected event after a dial-before-you-dig confirmation.

 

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace

Laycock Road House In Sydney By Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photo Tom Ferguson | Yellowtrace
Photography by Tom Ferguson.

 

+ What was your process for sourcing/ designing art and furnishings for the home?

Art was mostly sourced through friends. Adrian Hobbs provided a beautiful work that went into the bedroom, for instance. I also sourced a plaster cast piece from Tarik Ahlip from Alaska Galleries. Tarik has just completed the Parramatta City Council public commission for sculpture and Adrian has just exhibited in Miami and is painting up a small storm it seems.

In furnishing the spaces, various pieces were designed specifically using various local artisans/ makers and scattered throughout the house to complement a smattering of up to date pieces and some classics like Mies van der Rohe’s MR20.

+ Any other interesting facts you could share with us?

Apart from the girls refusing to visit “the hole” and now absolutely loving their house – not really. It is an ongoing relationship as we are doing more work on the house, so who knows what new stories may arise…

 

 


[Images courtesy of Telly Theodore Allied Office. Photography by Mary Gaudin and Tom Ferguson.]

 

One Response

  1. Avatar
    John Powell

    Would that a building section be included to grasp the steep grade with the 4.7m hole.

    Reply

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