We’re delighted to have delivered a Brisbane family their dream home — honouring both its river views and its steeply sloping site. Located in Highgate Hill, the home is split over two storeys. The upper level houses a generous communal space including the kitchen, dining area and a master bedroom. Add to that a large open-plan living space with an expansive verandah from which to take in views of the iconic Brisbane River. The lower level comprises two bedrooms — each with their own balconies — and a rumpus room for the two teens lucky enough to call this address their home.
Together, our team and the homeowners were determined to respect the site. JDA Co. Director James Davidson says his intent was to “touch the ground lightly”. To this end, we worked closely with engineers to incorporate a wide structural span usually reserved for commercial projects. “This strategy allowed us to reduce the number of structural columns and cutback on the amount of earthmoving equipment required on site,” James says.
Careful consideration was also given to the placement of roof-top solar panels. “The house is surrounded by dense vegetation, so we opted to retain the foliage and be smarter about where and how the solar panels were positioned — away from the shade,” JDA Co. architect Clive Ba-Pe says. Other green initiatives include the introduction of a heat-pump water system that retains hot water over lengthy time periods, as well as a large rainwater tank to service the site’s extensive landscape, and irrigation system.
The home’s windows and doors have been insulated with a glass coating that keeps them cool in summer and warm in winter. Meanwhile, Low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) paints were selected to help lower pollution and enhance indoor air quality. Outside, we opted for a mix of timber and metal cladding. “Whilst the timber brings a warmth and contrast to the colour of the façade, the metal is a low-maintenance material that delivers long-term cost-efficiencies,” JDA Co. architect Martin Arroyo explains.
Similarly, we were able to reduce the reliance on air-conditioning and artificial lighting through the clever use of multiple design elements. These include a large central rooftop void, cathedral ceilings and elevated windows that usher light and breezes throughout the interior.
Among the home’s biggest triumphs are its versatility and elements of surprise. “From the street, the house appears humble and unassuming,” Clive says. “However, upon entering the property, the design reveals incredible sight lines through to the river.”
Although it’s essentially a two-storey home, the design also incorporates a services’ terrace just below the second storey. This space houses the water tank, heat pump and other services. In fact, every space has been thoughtfully designed. The generous ceiling height in the upstairs study incorporates a loft space for storage and concealing air-conditioning ducts. Whilst downstairs, we repurposed the homeowners’ silky oak timber, reclaimed from the original site, into desks for their offspring.
Homeowner praises the design — from all angles
Peter Griffin and his wife Sabine were enamoured by the quality of light throughout the house. “The house opens up to the north and, thanks to a central void, the interiors are bathed in sunlight,” Peter says. “Meanwhile to the south, we enjoy spectacular views of the river.”
“The communal space on the upper storey works very well for our family from a functional perspective but more importantly is a space that is a joy to live in,” Peter explains.
JDA Co. was pleased to collaborate with Leonie Matthews on the early design schematics for this project