Grounded Yet Open – Brisbane Riverbank House by Owen Architecture
Brisbane, QLD, Australia
Embracing its abundant bushland setting, Brisbane Riverbank House sees a series of outdoor courtyards created through the strategic placement of pavilions within its original context. Owen Architecture takes cues from the existing 1930s building and its location to propose a home of earthy hues and a grounded openness.
Uniquely located within its riverside bushland context, the appropriate-named Brisbane Riverbank House immerses itself in its surroundings while simultaneously opening itself up through the creation of both outwardly-focused and reclusive spaces. Extending from the original bones of the house, the additional pavilion structure creates built volume around which external rooms and communing areas are created. In its warm-climate setting, the conjuring of such curated outdoor spaces was as vital as those internally. Through strategic positioning of additional elements on the site, Owen Architecture takes a macro-planned view and more accurately completes the home’s potential, embracing cues from its surroundings through a grounded palette.
Owen Architecture takes cues from the existing 1930s building and its location to propose a home of earthy hues and a grounded openness.
Imagined as a relaxed extension of its surroundings, Brisbane Riverbank House overlooks the Brisbane River to its front while being deeply set into its bushland at its rear. The original home was built in the 1930s and created more as a structure imposed on the site and as a place of shelter from the outdoors, not necessarily one that opened itself up to its setting. Through taking a masterplan view, the resulting home sees two courtyards emerge through the addition of a pavilion. The two pavilions take on separate roles, one facing the riverside, where a large grass and garden area opens itself up to the river. A more private and reclusive courtyard is created on the opposite side, engaging with the street and creating a unique entry condition. Bounded by a series of garages to house the owner’s car collection, the paved and sloping external space offers a quieter and more private open space.
Influenced by its context on multiple fronts, the resulting materiality is imbued with an earthiness to add warmth and connect the home in its setting. Navigating a sloping site, the structural and support elements that comprise movement through and around the home then materialise in the same palette. Brick and terracotta are used extensively, forming retaining walls, stairs and flooring. These elements connect the home to its site in a purposefully grounded way and imbed its comprising parts in its surroundings. The textural robustness both internally and externally reinforces the continuation of space between inside and out, where glazing and doors are thresholds, not just bounding edges.
Brisbane Riverbank House is deliberately relaxed and embedded in its site, creating a home that does not impose itself before its setting but works comfortably within it. Through listening to both the client and the site, Owen Architecture has been able to propose a home of purpose that responds consciously and with humility.