Many architects have contributed to the history of this Sydney home, from its original owner and namesake Sir Roy Grounds to the architect who conceived of it in 1972, Stuart Whitelaw, and finally current homeowner and architect Conrad Johnston of Fox Johnston, who has given the home a new lease on life using Abodo eco timbers and an extended floor plan.
A product of its time and with a distinctive street presence, SRG House had many redeeming qualities that were worth salvaging during Johnston’s recent renovation. A fusion of ideas was inherent in the design of the heritage-listed home, including geometries that reflected the Sydney architectural aesthetic, as well as some Brutalist detailing such as concrete pillars and exposed ceilings.
Before committing any ideas to paper, Johnston lived in the house as it stood. During this observation period, he noticed the “beautiful connection to the landscape, beautiful light, beautiful views, which we wanted to emphasise.”
Having seen where it could be improved, and inspired by a recent build by award-winning construction company SQ Projects, who would become the main contractors, he created a design that would see the house endure into the modern age and beyond.
He says the home “provided a real opportunity to do something interesting, but the approach would need to be quite radical and strong because the site and existing elements were quite unwieldy.”
The large floor-to-ceiling windows were kept, while other elements of the house were updated, beginning with the cedar cladding. The architect looked to Abodo for this key feature of the redesign.
Choosing Abodo Vulcan WB10 145x20 vertical boards with a Protector - Walnut stain in the place of cedar meant creating a similar look to the original cladding but without the pitfalls of stability issues and frequent maintenance.
Vulcan Cladding is created using thermally modified New Zealand-grown timber, which along with its patented vertical grain construction gives an enhanced level of stability and durability without the need for chemical preservatives.