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To complement a neighbourhood of heritage properties, this new development presents a contemporary interpretation of a traditional Queenslander

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Retaining the character of a heritage area is a priority for most local governments, and it's even more critical when the new has to sit right alongside the old.

Such was the case with this new development behind Southbank in East Brisbane. Architect Angus Munro says the four townhouses, developed by builder Charlie Woodward, are within an established neighbourhood of heritage properties.

"It is very much a character area, and the new architecture needed to acknowledge this," Munro says. "The traditional Queenslander typology provided the inspiration for the design – the concept of the big roof, shaded veranda and sandstone base is still a valid response to the subtropical climate. But we have created a modern interpretation with vertical cedar cladding, rather than horizontal weatherboards, and a folded zinc roof that wraps down to enclose bedrooms on the top level.

"The individual houses help reinforce the existing subdivision patterns and traditional building forms on the street. And although they are modern in character, the houses have a form and scale that are sympathetic to the more traditional buildings."

Contemporary veranda elements are created by a wide concrete portico at the front of the house and a large terrace that appears punched out at the rear. Both recesses feature deep, white-painted reveals that contrast the texture of the cladding, highlighting the different qualities of the two materials, says Munro.

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"We modulated the street facade with hoods, gutters, projecting fascias, and batten screens to cast shadows as well as creating depth," says Munro.

"We also put a modern spin on the detailing that you see on a traditional Queenslander. The zinc roof has a folded edge profile and timber soffits, not just a typical fascia and gutter."

To ensure the house would have a close relationship with the outdoors, the ground at the front of the property was excavated, with the earth used to build up the rear garden. This meant the living areas could flow straight out to the garden, through 7m-wide sliding doors. It also reduced traffic noise from the street below.

"Even though the house has a great view across to the city, we wanted to follow the Japanese idea of creating your own foreground, which enhances the perspective," says the architect. "And providing lawns for each house, rather than having a shared green space, allows individuality – this house has a pool, for example.

"There is also a generosity in providing a living area that flows outdoors. The living space is effectively doubled."

The outlook from the kitchen, which is well back from the terrace, was another consideration. Consequently, the kitchen is raised slightly above the level of the living room, enabling a view uninterrupted by the living room furniture.

Travertine flooring flows right through the living areas to the terrace, further enhancing the seamless link between inside and out. Double-height glazing in the stairwell also provides a view of the wider outdoor landscape, and ensures plenty of natural light falls into the heart of the home.

The interior is defined by sleek, simple styling and a warm, neutral palette of materials that retains the contemporary feel. The lighter elements are contrasted by rich New Guinea rosewood door and window joinery, chosen for its structural stability and suitability for the climate.

Lacquered cabinets are teamed with Calacatta marble benchtops in the kitchen. The same marble appears in the bathrooms, where it forms custom-designed, cantilevered vanity units. Other key features of the master bathroom include an integrated sunken spa bath.

First published date: 07 February 2012

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Credit List

Architect Angus Munro, principal of Marc & Co Architects (Brisbane); in collaboration with Coarchitecture
Builder Charlie Woodward Builder
Kitchen manufacturer Peter Hemingway Industries
Cladding Western red cedar
Roofing VM Zinc
Tiling Silver and Toffee travertine marble
Flooring Travertine and spotted gum parquetry
Paints and varnishes Dulux
Lighting Lumen8
In-floor heating Heatec
Doors and windows Rosewood by Duce
Skylights Solartube
Door and window hardware Madinoz
Louvres Breezway Louvre Windows
External blinds Shy Blinds
Pool Charlie Woodward Builder
Home automation Clipsal C-Bus
Kitchen cabinetry Two-pack lacquer
Benchtops and splashback Calacatta marble by Precision Stone
Sink Custom stainless steel
Taps Gessi
Oven and cooktop Gaggenau
Ventilation Qasair
Refrigeration Liebherr
Dishwasher Miele
Bathroom vanity Custom Calacatta marble
Toilet Philippe Starck
Bathroom taps and shower fittings Gessi