West End House by Richard Kirk Architect
Richard Kirk Architect was chosen to design a new home in Brisbane’s West End, a suburb known for its historical homes. The challenge here was to convince the local authorities that homogeneity can be kept to level even if the new home wouldn’t look identical to the other homes in the neighborhood.
In order to do that, he took photos of every house in the street and showed the local council just how much they differ from each other, even though they look almost identical.
The West End House is located on a site that is wedged in between two existing homes. Its steep plunge from street level to a backyard overhung with fruit trees meant that the usable spaces were the ones at the front edge, unlike the rest of the homes on the street, who had their living spaces delegated to the rear of the plots. But, nevertheless, the architects conformed to local council requirements and they designed a new house that has similar proportions to its neighboring cottages, except that this one was way better organized in terms of living and climate.
The West End House occupies a rare fragment of previously undeveloped land in the historically dense inner-city suburb of West End. Located on a tight site the residence maximises light and ventilation while nestling smartly into the existing streetscape.
The plan takes cues from contemporary apartment design to organise space. Generous timber framed openings are provided to expand on internal volumes, borrowing external space and extending views. Light and ventilation are maximised in section, opening spaces further and provide framed views of the sky and adjacent landscape.
Materially the residence is a contemporary interpretation of the architectural language typical of the area – the timber framed worker’s cottage. Timber screening to the street and upper level bedroom affords privacy to the interior while maintaining light and ventilation. Internally the timber language is celebrated with clear finished plywood linings. Recycled structural timber joists and hangers are expressed, defining the intimacy of living areas and providing acoustic treatment. Matching timber cabinetry conceals lighting and services while organising adjacent spaces.
The residence attempts to re-invent the housing type particular to the area and provides an alternative solution for single residential development that improves upon existing amenity within the constraints of an historically dense neighbourhood.