Matt Kennedy started his career as an architectural photographer drawn to the subtleties of light. After some years behind the lens, he returned to university to complete architecture studies. Matt worked on residential and commercial projects at practices in Melbourne including Techne, before returning to Brisbane to start Arcke in 2012. His firm now has four staff.
Around the time of Arcke’s conception, the owners of a battered but beautiful old worker’s cottage, in Brisbane’s vibrant suburb of Rosalie, were living in Hong Kong getting ready to return with their young family to their sub-tropical home. During Brisbane’s 2011 floods, their entire house had been inundated with one metre of water, so the cottage was in dire need of restoration and extensions. The owners engaged Arcke to design and manage their build, inspired by the team’s commitment to honouring existing buildings and creating bespoke homes.
‘A significant issue was how to create a family home that engages and connects with the ground, while lifting the house to achieve flood immunity, all on a 405m2 lot,’ explains Matt. This catalysed the idea of creating a landscape ‘plinth’ – a garden level lifted two metres above ground, to the rear of the sloping block. The original cottage was located at the front, so after the cottage was lifted above flood levels, a two-level extension was added, with new living areas which flow out onto this elevated garden plinth. In turn, the plinth is on the same level as an above ground pool and deck area. In this way, Arcke has imaginatively achieved flood immunity and the desired connection to ground, with enviable style and functionality!
With five neighbouring properties, privacy was addressed through careful positioning of horizontal hardwood screening, windows and rebated courtyards, enabling filtered light with controlled vistas. The materials palette takes its cues from the original structure. ‘We interpreted the traditional language of timber and tin in a contemporary context. We value timber as a renewable resource, and the natural qualities it brings,’ explains Matthew. The influence of Japanese architecture is present with visible timber framing on structural panels, delicate floating roof forms, and sliding timber-framed doors and windows. These elements blend harmoniously lending the house a refined but relaxed character, perfectly suited to the local climate.