A Compact Garden House – Casuarina House by Vokes and Peters
Brisbane, QLD, Australia

Words Bronwyn Marshall
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Conceived as a compact house in its own generous garden setting, Casuarina House rejects the typified coastal aesthetic to carve its own unique vernacular. Vokes and Peters brings an inquisitive dissecting approach to propose a living, working home for a young family.

Defying the typical response to a coastal setting, Casuarina House sits as a representation of its owner’s values and lifestyle. Neither confining the architecture to the expected coastal home typology, nor prescribing to urban notions of robustness and convenience, instead, Casurina House proposes its own individual vernacular. Vokes and Peters applies an inquisitive approach to the home, emphasising the architects’ considered sensibilities to space, materiality and how the home inherently functions.

Casuarina House sits as a representation of its owner’s values and lifestyle.

At the core of the home is an open double-height volume that also allows for a connection to the elements.

The home, built by SJ Reynolds Constructions, is defined by a long verandah that stretches the length of the building, encouraging movement and flow to occur outside and creating a direct connect to the site and natural environment. At the core of the home is an open double height-volume that also allows for a connection to the elements. A feature timber screen surrounds the volume, offering privacy and sun-shading, while also creating a focal point and acting as a non-traditional balustrade element. This open space essentially the lungs of the interior, allowing the inhabitants to engage with the sounds and aromas of the ocean and to gaze at the stars – a place for sunlight, rain and the elements to interact with the inner façade and inform the experience within the home.

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The home, built by SJ Reynolds Constructions, is defined by a long verandah that stretches the length of the building.

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The brickwork also stands as a rejection of both the urban and coastal residential building block, offering a form that is not a duplicate of its neighbours, but which engages with the site and its context.

Key to the success of the house is how it engages with its constituent elements and encourages a dialogue. The use of hit-and-miss brickwork provides a textural focal point, while also allowing for large ventilating openings in the façade. These pale bricks were selected based on their contrast to the painted timber screen, offering an element of softness, where the matte surface absorbs light, anchoring the building to its site and creating a solid form connected to its foundations. The brickwork also stands as a rejection of both the urban and coastal residential building block, offering a form that is not a duplicate of its neighbours, but which engages with the site and its context.

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Key to the success of the house is how it engages with its constituent elements and encourages a dialogue.

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Casuarina House uses its comprising parts as an expression of how the home and its family engage with the outdoors.

With all of the living spaces designed to radiate from the garden, and by extending the building vertically, the resulting footprint is deliberately minimised, creating an even larger adjacent garden. Casuarina House uses its comprising parts (brickwork and timber) as an expression of how the home and its family engage with the outdoors, and the encouraging relationship between the two. The brickwork generously defines the home boundary and offers a place to sit and socialise outdoors, creating fencing around the pool, housing the outdoor fireplace and acting to provide both privacy and ventilation. Meanwhile, the other element, timber, is both a focal and a functional material, enabling circulation to occur outdoors and allowing for ventilation and privacy.

Vokes and Peters has created a composition that, with a considered and restrained palette, explores how the comprising parts can come together and in doing so, challenges both how homes function, and the form and vernacular they can take. Casuarina House engages with its site and paves its own unique path as a compact and thriving home.

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Casuarina House engages with its site and paves its own unique path as a compact and thriving home.

Published 16 December, 2019
Photography  Christopher Frederick Jones
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