Lappin House in Brisbane, Australia by Arkhefield
Text and images are courtesy Arkhefield; photographs are by Scott Burrows.
Queensland, Australia is characterized by a long running, distinguished and historical form of building, the Queenslander. It can be an arduous task when renovations are required to these iconic forms. The Lappin House looked to embrace the past and the future both simultaneously and respectfully. It was important to acknowledge the historical context of the site and suburb, but at the same time provide a modern solution for the literally expanding needs of the client – who was expecting twins.
The aspiration of the Lappin House was to preserve the language of the Queenslander while getting the best out of the site. As the original house was in excellent condition, this philosophy informed a new extension to the rear of the existing house, preserving the heritage appearance from the street. The negative space shaped by the extension created a new central courtyard play area in the middle of the house linking the existing to the new. This courtyard provides a new but unofficial entry, which flips the way the interiors spaces are used and experienced.
The existing house is now the protected play area for the children while the extension provides a new private retreat for the adults with the central courtyard as the middle ground. The forms of the spaces are a direct response to the site constraints and opportunities as well as a deliberate departure to the traditional context. Walls slope in to accommodate setbacks and open up to the view, which contrasts sharply to the symmetry of the old Queenslander. The objective of the new extension was to deliberately contrast the new and old elements in a complimentary manner. This was done through form, materials and color.
The slope of the site and consequent excavation as well as beautiful city views dictated the vertical build of the extension. This decision provided a small building footprint and economic use of space, as well as allowing a large extent of the lushly vegetated block to remain. The configuration of the spaces as well as louver windows at all openings ensures that most rooms enjoy natural light and constant air flow from at least two opposing sides of the house. The new central courtyard allows plenty of northern light into the rooms.