The Client’s Brief
The small original house was in a dilapidated condition, due to natural deterioration, inadequate structural modifications and water damage. An asbestos cement sheet lined post1946 side extension carried no character from the original house. The yard offered no outdoor living spaces.
The owners had recently moved into this house and firstly needed to upgrade it to current structural standards. Secondly, it needed to be expanded to accommodate large family gatherings spanning three generations. Often those family members and their children would be visiting for several nights; therefore, sleeping quarters needed to be self contained, and living spaces would need to be differentiated to allow several generations to cohabit without crowding, and yet gather together for celebrations and family dinners.
At time of construction, the house was valued by the lending institution at approximately 1.5 times the project construction cost.
Town Planning Response
This pre1946 house was subject to development code restrictions. The design was subject of a Code Assessment. The Project was assessed against The Residential Design Low Density Character and Low Medium Density Code, the Residential Design – Small Lot Code, Character Code, Demolition Code and the House Code.
A Town Planning Report was prepared to support the Development Application submission. The scheme was well received by Brisbane City Council.
The spatial ordering was informed by the considerable sideways sloping site. The existing house was stripped of the inappropriate post1946 additions; this has become the core of the new extensions, containing those Communal functions of Entry, Living, Dining, Family, Media Rooms, Kitchen, Laundry, Garage.
From the front north facing courtyard, a new primary ordering axis has been established, with uninterrupted vision through the core Entry, Dining and Family Rooms, terminating in a Hearth with a fireplace.
From the Entry, one discovers a cross axis through the Living and Media Rooms. Upon arrival at the Hearth, one notices oneself in the middle of another cross axis. To one side is the Kitchen and to the other is a Balcony which opens onto the rear courtyard.
There is another self contained guest suite on the original floor level, accessed via a small alcove. A new extension was built under the house, on the downhill side, accessed by a staircase leading down off the first cross axis. This extension contains a self contained guest suite comprising bedroom, living, bathing and cooking facilities, with its own discreet entry and access to a rear courtyard.
A second extension was built to the side at the uphill end of the house. This extension contains the Garage, with a parent’s retreat above, comprising a suite of Bathroom, Bedrooms, Study and Balconies. The Upper Level extension is accessed by another staircase leading up off the other cross axis. The resultant composition is staggered over three storeys, although the house is no higher than two at any one point, in compliance with the height restrictions of the Small Lot Code.
Architectural Response (cont'd)
Of special note is the Kitchen. This is the social heart of the house around which everything else revolves. Being of such social and visual importance, this was designed very specifically for several people in which to work simultaneously. Beyond its daily practical function, the Kitchen has been detailed to an extraordinary level of fine joinery and presents as a sculptural artwork in its own right. The highlight is an LED lit glass display case to the side of the island bench facing into the Family Room. Click on individual photos to see full size.
Energy Efficient Design
The house achieves a required 5 star energy efficiency rating. This has been achieved through the use of double ceiling insulation, & full wall insulation. A byproduct of the thermal insulation is that the house is very quiet inside.
Thermal efficiency has also been achieved through use of low emissivity glass.
The most effective technique however has been through the primary layout of rooms to capture prevailing breezes, and the design of north facing overhangs to shield out summer sun while drawing in the winter sun to create heat sinks in the house.
Lighting throughout comprises luminaries fitted with a combination of compact fluorescent and LED bulbs.The fireplace is in fact a Jetmaster gas heater which delivers optimal winter heating without burning wood.
This is a very large house, with a large number of rooms. However, the overall feeling is of a series of suites of very intimate & welcoming spaces.
Different family groups can live in the house, in privacy, and then also gather together in the central communal rooms.
There is a sense of prevailing calm & quiet, promoted by the use of high level of insulation, the palette of complementary colours, and the highly deliberate architectural ordering of space.