Inspired by architecture with respect for the past, the added structures at Gibbon Street, New Farm – Brisbane, were imagined as a series of relic-like garden walls repurposed to accommodate a living environment. The philosophy in this concept designed by Cavill Architects is the suspension of time, a wild experience, distinguished from the regularity of the modern built environment.
Beginning at the front, the garden walls meander under the existing cottage and finish at the rear of the site. Flanking internal and external areas, the walls dictate the experience of the observer – encouraging a slower pace, directing their focus to the landscape which is what draws me deep into this gobsmacking home.
Rather than opt for an open-plan design of the contemporary renovated Queensland workers cottage – with its ambiguous arrangement of living spaces – the formalized living, sitting and dining areas are compartmentalized, each room dedicated to their function.
The notion of a genuinely external experience runs counter to the traditional plan of a Queensland worker cottage, where the living areas often sit alongside an external deck, the two spaces create a singular experience. The plan here was to design rooms with specific and distinctive experiences. The same concept applies to the external areas and landscape, although enjoyed less frequently, they provide a genuinely external living experience.
Brisbane is increasingly impacted by major weather events and flooding. This is evident on adjoining lots at Gibbon St where entire landscapes have been lost . The house actively prioritizes permeability and the catchment of rainwater. Mindful of its impact on the character of the street, the renovation preserves features typical to the pre-war workers’ cottage.
New Farm is Brisbane’s “little Italy” and the rendered concrete structure is a nod to the building precedents set by Italian migrant settlers. It is an attempt to legitimize the conflict between the timber and tin workers cottage and the ‘Mediterranianised’ migrant housing that was a crucial part of the post-war settlement. This house impresses me at every turn and nook!
Images David Chatfield & Christopher Frederick Jones