CONNECT HOUSE, Alterations and Additions to Existing Home, Orange, NSW

On a brisk, sunny, winter’s morning we were introduced to our client’s home in Orange NSW.

The home had many large rooms with quirks often found in older, previously renovated, homes. A staggered hallway meant a fragmented entry, leading to the rear 1990’s addition which was a vast and unwelcoming living and dining space.

The main living area was cold, cavernous and draughty; views to the iconic Mt Canobolas were obscured; and rooms like the bathroom and laundry were dysfunctional for the needs of a young, growing family – and just in the wrong place.

Sustainable Living

We set to sculpt, shape and reorganise the interior spaces to remain mostly within the extent of the existing footprint. As well as adding a small (only 20m2) amount of additional floor area, various adaptations allowed for an additional bedroom, bathroom, laundry and study.


The simple solution was to insert a courtyard into the centre of the home. The courtyard then enables northern light entry into the adapted living spaces surrounding the courtyard. The spaces in turn are designed to face the light, and are consolidated in order to streamline the previous 1990s addition. The new component is simply a raised new room – open to the adjacent living areas, whilst oriented to capture the view of Mount Canobolas beyond.

  • Spaces for working, reading and relaxing – well organised, quiet, and basking in the midday sun
  • Spaces for sharing, eating and playing are more connected, and now look towards the mountain, the courtyard and a thriving garden.

Big Picture Thinking

Very conscious of time and minimising project duration, this project was intentionally designed to fit within the allowable building envelope. For this specific location, this means keeping any new construction well away from the title boundary and within the allowable boundary setback and maximum building height.

Whilst inserting the new internal courtyard and changing the relationship of interior spaces with natural daylight, we were able to design a home that conformed to local building regulations (allowable building envelope). This means that we were able to avoid a potentially lengthy town planning (DA) application and approval process.

Winter Solutions

Orange is a cold winter city: freezing overnight with clear blue skies by day.This house needed to be designed to be warm and cosy on the inside during winter, and light, bright, and well ventilated in the summer months. Our clients’ priority was to maximise the energy efficiency of the home to reduce heating and cooling costs. One strategy was to specify thermally-broken window and doors frames with double glazing to minimise heat/cool transfer through the glazing – which can typically contribute up to 30% of the home’s heat gain and loss.

Summer Sun Control

We were also very conscious of protecting the living spaces from any sun entry to interior spaces during the summer period.

We did this by designing new roof areas to extend over the north-facing walls and windows. This provides for large eaves, specifically sized to allow shading to north facing windows and glazed doors. For higher roof areas, additional sun-shading louvre units provide the same shading effect.

In addition, high performance insulation wraps the house (including roof, ceiling, walls and floors) in high R-value insulation will provide greater protection and reduction of summer heat transfer.

Strategic Details that Support the Design and Client Requirements

Materials specified are locally sourced, like the FSC-certified Blackbutt specified for all flooring and joinery. We were also conscious of the whole-of-life-cycle for joinery materials. So instead we specified FSC-certified formaldehyde-free plywood, which has greater potential to be recycled in the future, and won’t leach toxic volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the family home.

Project Update

We have completed the Construction Documentation stage of the project, with full architectural drawings and specifications. These are now ready for our Client to source a builder and complete their renovation. We are very excited to see the final product soon!

Project Team
Architecture and Interior Design
Cathi Colla Architects
Structural Engineer
Cook & Roe Structural Engineers
Energy Rater
Efficient Living Sustainable Building Consultants
Project Details
Architectural Services
Concept Design, Developed Design and Contract Documentation
Project Status
Construction pending

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