How can one create true balance and connection, in a two storey house on a steep block? Arcke’s Director, Matt Kennedy, is not one to shy away from a good architectural challenge. When his clients, a young family, repeatedly noted their fond recollections of family meals, it was obvious the kitchen needed to be a central gathering space. But where to position it: upstairs or downstairs? Matt posed the idea that the kitchen and dining could be located on a new halfway or ‘split’ level. Easily, and more importantly equally, accessible from the upper and lower levels, the new kitchen is now very much the heart of the house.
The addition of the split-level allowed a very generous ceiling height, that created the opportunity for adjacent spaces to look into the kitchen. This aligned with the clients’ wish for openness and transparency throughout the space – and is further enhanced with large sliding windows. When opened, these allow the space to function as an indoor/outdoor room or deck. According to Matt: ‘The kitchen is counterbalanced by a series of more intimate sitting spaces elsewhere in the building – a reading nook, a separate study and two living rooms with their own personalities give the family multiple breakout spaces to enjoy.’
Like many Queenslanders on steep sites, this house was originally plagued by a sense of disconnection to the ground level. Arcke integrated landscape design early in the design process to activate the back of the block. To ground the building, concrete and brick were used in the lower section where it notches into the site. The rear patio was terraced and landscaping walls were added. ‘The integrated brick seating and new outdoor fireplace at the bottom of the garden provides a focal point and destination that is an extension of the architecture. Walking down the terrace stairs encourages a sense of curious exploration…’ says Matt.
In its new iteration, this house maximises the views from every vantage point, engages with the outdoor areas and blurs the divide between upper and lower levels. ‘Through a multitude of special spaces, rather than one large gesture, the family of four can find their own spaces to inhabit, whilst coming together in others,’ Matt explains. ‘The owners love that the entire site is now activated.’