The concept of a ‘granny flat’ is not new, but this established housing typology has been explored in thoughtful and meaningful ways by Brcar Morony Architecture, in ‘A House For Grandma’.
While physically connected to the main house, the self contained granny flat on Sydney’s Upper North Shore maintains a separate entrance and street address that allows the occupant — be that a grandparent, teenager, or guest — to live autonomously.
The challenge for the architects was to position and design the new structure to capture the site’s established landscape, without obstructing views from the main house, or feeling misplaced.
An existing underutilised garage to the rear and side of the house posed the ideal location, allowing the new dwelling to be somewhat ‘subservient’ to the main dwelling, while borrowing views of the rear garden and a jacaranda tree to the south west.
The resulting home encompasses 60 square metres internally, comprising an open-plan kitchen, living and dining space, bedroom with a built-in workspace, and a bathroom with a European laundry.
The living space opens on one side to a directly-accessible and private 25-square-metre courtyard, while the other frames views of the jacaranda tree from a window seat.
Natalie Brcar, architect and director of Brcar Morony Architecture, explains the design intent. ‘The vision, or response, was that the architecture anchors itself to an existing and established jacaranda tree within the site, framing the view expressed with an oversized window opening to the landscape. This oversized picture frame window forms a striking and strong element for the new building.’
Operable timber screens provide privacy as desired.
Inside, A House for Grandma explores a variety of scales and volumes to maximise the feeling of space across its relatively modest footprint.
Entry is via a narrow hallway that offers low level glimpses to the external courtyard; the secluded bedroom curved wall peels away to provide curated views to the landscape; and the light-filled living space features an oversized raking ceiling and clerestory glazing.
‘Pitched roof forms and angular forms were designed and form a contemporary interpretation of the existing home’s roofing typology,’ says Natalie.
The classic material palette of honed concrete flooring, oak joinery, external recycled bricks, and blackbutt provides a flexibility of use and allowed the project to be delivered during Covid. ‘Most finishes and materials were sourced and where possible produced locally for this reason,’ says Natalie.
‘The fit out will have longevity as we never know who the end user will be… It can suit a young adult, or grandma.’
With dedicated utilities metres and street address, A House for Grandma offers a sense of independence for is occupant/s, while benefiting from the security and care available from being attached to the family home.