The clients of this Paddington, Brisbane home were seeking more outdoor space and rooms with an immediate connection to the ground and garden. An achievable brief for many residential projects, however, this site was heavily burdened, with its ground plane compromised by flood levels and overland flow.
‘The brief was entirely in conflict with its site constraints, and we embraced these constraints as drivers for the conceptual design,’ says Michael Lineburg, architect at Lineburg Wang.
Lineburg Wang not only met the client’s brief, but managed to save the existing 1960s home in the process.
For a new build on this site, flood planning provisions stipulated a minimum habitable floor level 2.5 metres above natural ground. Guided by the client’s love of the existing 60s post-war brick and hardwood framed home, an early strategy was devised to overcome these restrictions. ‘This meant the undercroft would be exempt from the flood planning scheme as an existing condition – a valuable 113 square metres that would otherwise result in increased height and a site covered in a new build,’ explains Michael.
In the terrain of the floodplain (the undercroft) is a new red brick wall that falls away to piers, permeable to flood waters, and forming the home’s entry sequence. ‘The undercroft is robust, its new walls gappy and able to be hosed, its amenity and landscape a muddied palette of reds and terracottas to minimum habitable floor level, as if the waters had already coursed through,’ Michael says.
On either side of the existing house are new additions: the elevated main bedroom and roof garden at the front; and the kitchen, dining, sitting and outdoor terrace to the rear. The street-facing facade is conceived as a trellis, permeable to flood waters, giving the front garden to the street and passersby.
The home’s palette softens as you climb into the elevated new and renovated rooms of the house. Silvers and greens reference the trunk of a 15 metre high gum captured as part of the landscape of the interior public rooms, contrasted with the rich and moody undercroft. ‘The project feels like a journey of two conditions – of the ‘muddied’ undercroft, and the silvered trunk of the captured gum tree,’ Michael says.
Michael calls the completed project a ‘celebration of its constraints. He adds, ‘Everything materially and spatially was in response to the challenging conditions to work with…It is deeply embedded in its site, and a careful response to its context, neighbour and landscapes. This is, for us, the most exciting part of the project.’