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A Transformed Queenslander That Celebrates Its Undercroft

Architecture

Architect Kieron Gait describes a traditional Queenslander undercroft as a cool, shady space with battened edges, and a concrete slab that acts as a heat sink. It’s often the most comfortable place to be in summer, yet it’s typically underutilised.

His vision for this Brisbane project was not merely to activate the existing undercroft, but position it as the heart of the home. The existing house was raised and moved towards the rear of the site, allowing space for a new living platform beneath.

The upper level now enjoys an elevated north-facing aspect across the new ‘backyard’ that’s proudly presented to the street.

Family life occurs in a breezy, light-filled home with a strong connection to its garden and surrounding neighbourhood.

29th July, 2022

Bardon Undercroft House is a recently renovated and extended Queenslander by Kieron Gait Architects. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Renovations celebrate the undercroft, introducing a new open-plan kitchen, dining, and living areas including a ‘garden room.’ Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

The existing timber Queenslander was moved towards the rear of the site and raised to allow a new living platform underneath the house. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

The new space enjoys an elevated north facing aspect over the street to the treetops beyond. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

The living level encourages the family to live collectively: spaces are connected but separate, each with their own character and outlook, but unified by the rhythm of the exposed structure above. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Concrete floors drift outside to the garden terrace, blurring the lines between the house and landscape. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

The new front garden designed by Dan Young Landscape Architect and installed by Sod Design echos the pocket park opposite. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Concrete belongs to the ground while spotted gum timber references the existing house’s hardwood frames and construction. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

‘The idea is that the concrete and timber become part of the garden connected to landscape, whilst the white painted timber and steel infill the void between it and the Queenslander above,’ explains Kieron. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

A blue bathroom conjures feelings of a tropical escape. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

The upper level now enjoys an elevated north-facing aspect across the new ‘backyard.’ Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Family life occurs in a breezy, light-filled home with a strong connection to its garden and surrounding neighbourhood. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

The garden room embraces the new front yard featuring natural materials in keeping with the surrounding landscape. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

The family of six can occupy the house in many ways across the multiple living spaces indoors and out. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

The garden room beneath the existing home. Photo – Christopher Frederick Jones

Amelia Barnes
Friday 29th July 2022

‘Living has moved from the insular, raised house to the garden.’ 

Beneath many Queenslander homes is an ‘undercroft’ typically used for storage and passive cooling.

In this recent Brisbane project, Kieron Gait Architects saw potential to better utilise this space for family living, with an adjoining north-facing garden. 

To achieve this, the existing triple-gabled house was moved back 4.5 metres on its Bardon site (about five kilometres north-west of the CBD). ‘This was a somewhat brave move by the owner, as it presents the family and garden to the street,’ say the architects. 

The original rooms were all completely retained, but raised 1.5 metres to allow for a new liveable storey underneath. 

Subsequent renovations celebrate the undercroft, introducing new kitchen, dining, and living areas including a ‘garden room.’

This indoor-outdoor space embraces the home’s new front yard designed by Dan Young Landscape Architect and installed by Sod Design featuring natural materials, in keeping with the surrounding landscape.

Concrete forms a cool slab beneath the house, while spotted gum timber references the existing home’s hardwood frames and construction, complemented by contemporary white painted steel.

‘The idea is that the concrete and timber become part of the garden, connected to landscape, whilst the white painted timber and steel infill the void between it and the Queenslander above,’ explains Kieron. 

Each room has its own character and outlook, unified by the rhythm of the exposed structure above.  

Upstairs, the original house becomes a private retreat containing the bedrooms and additional quiet living spaces.

Large operable doors and windows to the east naturally ventilate the home. Combined with the thermal mass of the concrete floor and aspect, Kieron says it’s a comfortable space to be in year round.

‘Living has moved from the insular, raised house to the garden, [facilitating] daily life in an open and light-filled family home. The original house is still respected, used and restored.’ 

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

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