Restoring a Brutalist Design – Chambers House by Shaun Lockyer Architects
Teneriffe, QLD, Australia
Located in the Brisbane suburb of Teneriffe, the renovation of the iconic heritage-listed Chambers House resulted in a considered, functional family home.
Instrumental in defining the architectural context of Teneriffe Hill, Chambers House celebrates the balance between light and dark, heavy and soft. Originally designed by former owner and Brisbane architect Rodney Chambers, Chambers House is a brutalist home, heritage listed for its use of concrete and blockwork.
When Shaun Lockyer & Jen Negline, of Shaun Lockyer Architects, embarked on the journey of restoring this significant architectural element of the Brisbane landscape, the original floorplan had virtually no defined rooms. “We often light-heartedly joke that we started with a zero bedroom house and we now how have a four bedroom house,” says Shaun Lockyer, Director of Shaun Lockyer Architects, “but all of that way done within a very, very small extension.”
Distinct in its crafted and functionalist design, the raw materials used are offset by the sensitivity of the lush, green landscape that grounds Chambers House in its suburban environment. The landscape design by Steven Clegg Design is strategic in its ability to soften the home’s bold and heavy form, connecting the brutalist architecture to the softer streetscape.
The house, which sits back from the street, comes together through a series of spaces and thresholds. Its location, predominately north facing, allows the interior to be washed with gentle light, foreshadowing the space and movement of an otherwise unyielding structure. The modernist approach sees space utilised in a way that commemorates sequenced movement – compression and release, journey and discovery. The exposed blockwork juxtaposes the delicate glass windows, further cementing the continual dance between materials. This relationship extends to the coolness of the concrete, the warmth of the timber and the light interior spaces.
The renovation, restoration and addition to the original house, collaboratively built with Solido Builders, was a considered endeavour that prioritised both the landscape design and responding to the urban context. Shaun Lockyer & Jen Negline, of Shaun Lockyer Architects, understood the significance of the house as an entire environment, rather than just a building alone. As a result of this approach, Chambers House still stands as a testament to Rodney Chambers and his vision, reinforcing the home’s status as an icon of Australian residential architecture.