Belle - - Contents - Pho­to­graph MARK ROPER Edited by KAREN McCART­NEY

Vokes and Peters speak the Queens­land de­sign ver­nac­u­lar.

Bris­bane ar­chi­tect part­ners Stu­art Vokes and Aaron Peters ap­proach projects with a re­spect for what al­ready ex­ists.

WHEN IT COMES TO AR­CHI­TEC­TURE where the val­ues of a prac­tice are clearly ev­i­denced in the work it is hard to ig­nore Bris­bane part­ners Stu­art Vokes and Aaron Peters. They have de­vel­oped some­thing of a sig­na­ture style both vis­ually and in con­cept that has made them the go-to ar­chi­tects for adapt­ing Queens­lan­ders, cot­tages and his­toric cor­ner stores for con­tem­po­rary use. “We like to take a po­si­tion that is not about a house style (an easy trap to fall into) but about a set of val­ues that al­lows our out­comes to shift from a cot­tage to a new ve­teri­nary hos­pi­tal to a civic plaza,” says Stu­art.

They have adopted a phi­los­o­phy an­chored in re­spect for what ex­ists – be it the built or nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment – and an abil­ity to use those at­tributes as a ba­sis for the de­vel­op­ment of ideas. “We have worked with Queens­lan­ders for more than a decade now. We know them in­ti­mately and have evolved a set of re­sponses and an ar­chi­tec­tural lan­guage which we feel is ap­pro­pri­ate,” says Aaron. Ex­ist­ing car­pen­try, the shape of an arch or the fall of a roofline all pro­vide clues as to how the new is drawn out of the old and how the mar­riage of the two is suc­cess­fully en­gi­neered.

Like it or not, their work has be­come syn­ony­mous with a re­strained monochro­matic palette which serves their search for a cer­tain time­less­ness. “Black and white is def­i­nitely the pre­ferred scheme in our of­fice. We see it as a neu­tral base into which the own­ers can over­lay their own per­sonal taste,” ex­plains Aaron. Yet there is al­ways warmth as tim­bers such as Amer­i­can oak and black­butt are em­ployed in the form of be­spoke join­ery pieces.

A new colour de­par­ture is the sooth­ing pale green of their re­cent Wil­ston Gar­den Room. This small but ex­quis­ite pro­ject at the rear of a Bris­bane worker’s cot­tage, high­lights two of the things Vokes and Peters do re­ally well. They know how to make in­ter­nal plan­ning ap­pro­pri­ate to habi­ta­tion, which means op­ti­mum ori­en­ta­tion for nat­u­ral light, the in­tel­li­gent flow from one space to the next, and open­ings for both breezes and views. Their plan­ning is all about re­la­tion­ships not only in­ter­nally but in ex­ter­nal spa­ces too. The Wil­ston Gar­den Room cre­ated a con­nec­tion from the house to the gar­den for a young fam­ily. “We need to re­ally value ar­eas such as back­yards – and it is im­por­tant not to squan­der space whether pri­vate or pub­lic,” says Vokes.

A more ex­pan­sive ex­er­cise in both em­brac­ing and con­trol­ling the ex­ter­nal realm is the Dou­ble Court­yard House, a late 1940s build­ing com­bin­ing post-war aus­ter­ity with some the at­tributes of a tra­di­tional Queens­lan­der. In what Stu­art calls a ‘gen­uine act of ar­chi­tec­ture’, brick walls are used to con­tain the ex­ter­nal space em­pha­sis­ing the ex­is­tence of an out­door room while serv­ing to edit the views to­wards na­ture and away from less de­sir­able vis­tas. There is also a ma­nip­u­la­tion of per­cep­tion between a man­i­cured lawn area and a wild un­tamed one, im­bu­ing a sub­ur­ban set­ting with a sense of an ad­ja­cent for­est. The in­tan­gi­bles of mem­ory and ex­pe­ri­ence are im­por­tant to the prac­tice as are find­ing ways to sur­prise and de­light their clients that moves be­yond the brief.

Mov­ing up in scale, Vokes and Peters are work­ing with Sin­ga­porean firm Ong&Ong on a sig­nif­i­cant air­port lounge scheme where their val­ues align with the in­tended out­comes of hospi­tal­ity, hu­man scale and in­ti­macy. “The pro­ject aims to re­frame tra­di­tional lux­ury by pulling in no­tions of home, com­fort and what feels good emo­tion­ally,” says Stu­art.

For more go to voke­sand­

Bris­bane ar­chi­tects Stu­art Vokes and Aaron Peters were pho­tographed ex­clu­sively for Belle on the con­struc­tion site of Auchen ower House, Bris­bane.

Vokes and Peters cre­ated a con­nec­tion from the house to the gar­den for a fam­ily at Wil­ston Gar­den Room. An out­door room for Dou­ble Court­yard House. An age­ing beauty re­vived at Panorama Drive. State-of-the-art fa­cil­i­ties for the Uni­ver­sity of Queens­land’s Ve­teri­nary Med­i­cal Cen­tre. Bar­don House re­freshed. Cen­tral Av­enue kitchen.

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