New House Brisbane, Qld
There is a tangible sense of familiarity and memory woven into the design of Hillside House by Vokes and Peters. Given the significant number of residential alterations and additions undertaken by the architecture studio across Brisbane’s suburban landscape, this observation may at first seem unsurprising. However, in this house, that familiarity does not arise from the history of a pre-existing house, nor from the use of a building form or embellishment that is overtly deferential to traditional Queensland building character. Rather, it emerges from spatial sensibilities, from the relationship between the house, the landscape and the street, and from an overlay of narratives drawn from client, architect, site and city.
Perched on the side of a prominent hill in the riverside suburb of Teneriffe, this new house is located on a long-vacant block of land. The site benefits from dual street access and an elevated vantage point, taking in city views to the south-west, city-fringe views beyond the primary street frontage to the north-west, and an intimate cul-de-sac outlook from the secondary street frontage. This seemingly idyllic position was not without its challenges, however: the desire for city views was at odds with the need to mitigate western solar heat gain, and the architects were required to negotiate a significant change in level along the site’s length.
The clients were drawn to the collaborative nature of Vokes and Peters’s studio and sought an architect who celebrated landscape and building in equal measure. Further client aspirations were elaborated through the process of the “narrative brief,” during which the architects encouraged the clients to describe the rituals, events and daily habits that would be accommodated in their future home. The resultant design is a rich and personal manifestation of that brief.
Vokes and Peters director Aaron Peters says the objective was to find a way to make the garden the centrepiece of the house, despite the challenges of the topography: “That’s how the idea of a terrain that navigates its way through and across the site emerged,” Aaron explains. “Coupled with the