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A Grecian-Inspired Update For A California Bungalow

Architecture

The Cyclades is a cluster of islands in the Aegean Sea between Greece and Turkey, which is known mostly for its quintessential lime washed architecture, and sculptural arches typical of the Santorini coast.

Architects Alcorn Middleton took structural and aesthetic cues from this iconic region when designing the Toowong Lighthouse project in Brisbane. The clients wanted some of their Greek heritage woven into the renovation of their 1930s bungalow – and the architects delivered.

With curved arches and a breezy indoor-outdoor extension, the family home brings resort-style living into inner Brisbane, with full Santorini vibes!

23rd September, 2021

The curved feature ceilings and brick arches framing the pool also have added atmospheric effects, drawing light into the semi-outdoor living/dining area to create a soft ambient glow in the main volume of the house. Photo – Jad Sylla.

3-metre glass windows slide across to seal off the house from the outdoors. Photo – Jad Sylla.

This semi-outdoor space connects the updated but original 1930s California bungalow to the pool. Photo – Jad Sylla.

The new kitchen booth extends out from the main house with views to the street. Photo – Jad Sylla.

The new kitchen booth addition extends from the side of the house with views to the street. Photo – Jad Sylla.

The new indoor-outdoor living area contains a fireplace. Photo – Jad Sylla.

The main bedroom ensuite was updated with blues reminiscent of the Cyclades islands. Photo – Jad Sylla.

The exterior of the bungalow remains intact, with the extension just visible to the side. Photo – Jad Sylla.

The periscope-like chimney acts as a beacon among the treetops. Photo – Jad Sylla.

This distinctive chimney column gives the project its name – ‘Toowong Lighthouse’! Photo – Jad Sylla.

Sasha Gattermayr
Thursday 23rd September 2021

This 1930s California bungalow in the Brisbane suburb of Toowong was in great condition as a building, it was just too small for the family of four that owned it. They wanted a semi-outdoor living and dining area that could be used in both winter and summer, a second storey that could act as a children’s wing. Finally, they requested some reference to their Greek heritage be woven into the final design. To realise this vision, they engaged architects Alcorn Middleton.

Owing to structural problems encountered in the past, the original building was kept as is, except for minor cosmetic updates and an update for the main bathroom.

The major architectural flourishes were left to the back of the house, where a new rear sequence was required to connect the existing house to the pool area. A concave feature ceiling covers the new indoor-outdoor living and dining area, which sits between the main portion of the residence and the pool. These ceilings work in tandem with the brick archways framing the pool, which can be closed off with 3-metre-tall sliding glass doors.

‘As we were very particular in setting out the brick arches to line up with the bedroom balconies above, we need the frames to the sliding doors to also line up with the centre of each brick column,’ explains architect Chloe Middleton of the careful structural choreography.

Atop this semi-outdoor dining area sits the children’s bedrooms and a shared bathroom, accessed by a large spiral staircase. Full-height louvred windows open out to a view over the pool, with mid-height steel guards protecting the drop.

In addition to their obvious aesthetic affect, the arches and ceiling contribute to the atmospheric drama of the space. The curved tunnel ceilings act like eaves, siphoning light from the rear of the house into the main body. The whole structure is designed to accumulate soft, ambient light, with reflections of rippling water even dancing on the roof.

By night the house really lives up to its project name, Toowong Lighthouse – its periscope-like chimney sticks out like a beacon above the rooftops!

See more projects from Alcorn Middleton here.

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First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net