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 vokesandpeters.com.
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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