Winner of Australian House of the Year in the 2017 House Awards, Auchenflower House honours and reimagines the traditional Queensland home.

From the footpath, this house gives little away, blending with its neighbours on a quiet suburban street. South Brisbane based architects Vokes and Peters were tasked with adapting and adding to the original home to accommodate the owners, a couple with small children. Generous, interconnected living spaces were added to the original, designed to encourage the family to socialise. An extension was added to the rear of the property, accessed via an outdoor stair, bridging the old and the new.

A connection to nature was central to the project and is a significant focus for Vokes and Peters in their work more broadly. All of the rooms retain a relationship with the garden, encouraging those inside to both look out and come out.

This harmony with the outdoors is best demonstrated in the living spaces. Reconfiguring the layout of the original house sees the living space spill to outside.

Large openings at the rear of the house encourage entry to the backyard, and make it more easily accessible for the children. A sitting area overlooking the garden allows for easy supervision.

Characteristic of Queenslander style homes, expansive verandas run the length of the house. Adjusting the internal layout reanimated these verandas, making them an accessible and welcome addition to the living and entertaining space. Situated on a quite side street, the house invites you to step out onto the veranda and engage with the neighbours and the local community.

Celebrating and paying homage to the original timber structure was a key philosophy underpinning the project. Care was taken to maximise the potential of the existing house and reuse as much of this structure as possible. The extension adds living space while retaining the original spirit and garden. A blending of traditional and contemporary styles was needed to successfully execute the design brief. Adapting the traditional battened back stair as an architectural element for the side elevation of the new structure exemplifies this.

Paramount to the success of the design was ensuring all aspects of the completed structure combined modern elements with the familiar language of suburbia. Making the house fit with rather than impose upon the existing streetscape was important given its visual prominence. To achieve this, the building’s simple façade was preserved to ensure it remained at home in the suburb.

Innovative design elements have been employed to make use of the Brisbane climate and ensure the house is comfortable to live in year round. The considered positioning of openings, solar orientation, batten screening and roof overhangs work to provide sun-shading while allowing natural light in and cross-ventilation. Black paint on the exterior of the building incorporates ‘cool colour’ technology, reducing heat loads on the external walls to a level exceeding the performance of a traditional light toned paint colour.

Simple yet sophisticated Auchenflower House is a worthy winner of House of the Year.

Architect: Vokes and Peters
Builder: Bauen Projects
Photographer: Christopher Frederick Jones