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In Musings

By Gavin Bannerman

Old frame, modern group

On 02, Nov 2012 | No Comments | In Musings | By Gavin Bannerman

I’m in the middle of house renovations. I live in an old worker’s cottage, a two-bedroom Queenslander built in 1927. In my street, there are five or six houses next to one another that are basically the same house, the only difference being when they got their extensions: in the 1950s they liked boxing everything up, in the 1970s concrete steps ruled.




My wife and I have sat down with a designer and have developed a plan for an extension that keeps the integrity of the front of the cottage and creates a space out the back that makes the best use of our long, narrow block. The old and the new parts are quite distinct, yet complementary. On the weekend I went out to the worksite (I’d also like to point out that almost all of the builders ride, below is one of their bikes.)






Lots of wood










As I was jumping around the timber frames, like a kid around a cubby-house, it occurred to me what I was doing: I was doing the equivalent of putting a modern groupset on an old steel frame. I was taking the old part that had character and life still in it (the existing timber structure) and adding modern parts that just worked better than the old bits. I have another bike build project going on concurrently (a Concorde road bike thing – more on that soon) so I was very attuned to the similarities.

And as I thought more about I realised, “yes, this is the way to go.” It allows you to celebrate the things that have character, a bit of a story, but gives you the ability to shift gears easily (or have a useable kitchen to extend the metaphor.) It is kind of like having your cake and eating it too, but isn’t good design about having the best of both worlds? Plus, it’s way cheaper than either buying a totally new house, or buying a totally new bike. I would like to have brifters and steel, just as much as I would like to have hoop pine floor boards and storage that works. Kind of like this…



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