Mar 312010

The Governors on Fitzroy is a bed and breakfast guesthouse superbly located near Taylor Square in Surry Hills, one of Sydney’s near eastern “suburbs”.  The Governors is a charming and huge old Victorian, larger than the typical Sydney terrace. It routinely gets favorable comments from its guests but is in need of a little refreshing.

The Restored Facade

It’s owners asked me to propose a restoration or revival of the facade, which had been badly marred by a 60s-vintage remodel.  I’ve pointed out that, because the house takes up an unusually wide lot, it’s street front could be distinguished by a design that emphasized horizontality.  Still, my proposal is in essence a restoration and not an adventurous reinvention.  My primary guiding criterion has been that the house once more become a happy contributor to the streetscape of its lovely tree-shaded block.

Proposed New Conservatory

They also asked for a suggestion about how a new covered passageway in the rear garden might relieve interior circulation and help disguise an inappropriate béton brut addition, which looks like it must also have been done in the sixties, at the same time the original facade was destroyed.  A new glass roof over an existing interior courtyard would cover the house’s main pedestrian circulation path, which is now exposed to the city’s frequent rain showers.  The new conservatory would remain open on one side, focusing the inn on its large garden of Australian plants, unusual in the inner city.  Establishing a strong connection to the lush subtropical outdoors would lend the house a character in keeping with Sydney’s sophisticated but beach-casual style.

Stylistically, both the restored facade and the new conservatory would bridge the gap between urban Australia’s  intensely Victorian colonial past and its cosmopolitan, international present-day chic.  The house would both regain what it once was and become more clearly what it actually is today.

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