Once in a lifetime

Issue 11 Words: Danielle Dunsmore Photography: Christopher Frederick Jones
Hill End, QLD
  • The north-south running gallery features fin windows painted red that have been angled to permit light inside while minimising ingress of hot afternoon sun. To the east, high-level louvres to the courtyard permit ventilation on hot days.
  • The dining room looking west towards the gallery shows how the house opens onto the central courtyard. Storage and display nooks turn recycled VJ walls into features – note the original paint layers on the fin walls.
  • Louvres below casements provide low level, insect-screened ventilation to all bedrooms to provide cooling breezes when sleeping at bed height. All windows are framed in local plantation hoop pine joinery with Australian hardwood sills.
  • The kitchen cabinetry is built completely of plantation hoop pine ply with water-based stains and clear finish. Feature door handles are of brushbox and the benchtops are reconstituted stone.
  • The timber-floored living/dining room blurs the lines between inside and out by combining a light filled indoor room with a partially shaded river terrace. The concrete blockwork wall provides bracing and thermal mass.

A brief to build “the most sustainable home possible” on the Brisbane River’s south bank was an opportunity to prove green can be glamorous.

Queensland gets its fair share of sun. Now its warmth and light have been harnessed to an extent rarely seen in an amazing new home in Brisbane’s Hill End.

Designed by David Gole and Emma Scragg of Riddel Architecture (RA), this house goes to extraordinary lengths to harness and control the elements. Which is just one way in which RA realised their clients’ brief “to build the most sustainable home possible”.

At the time of our visit, the brand new home had had several open days over two weeks, receiving hundreds of visitors – including numerous architects and builders – keen to see some the latest environmental design and technology brought to life.

Recycling and reuse pushes the envelope

The team spared no pains in living up to their clients’ expectations, including incorporating a recycled content in the building of 80 per cent. In that and many other ways (for instance, making use of low-carbon, magnesia-based eco concrete), the project gave RA an opportunity to push the envelope in sustainable home design.

David Gole explains RA’s approach to the project. “Unfortunately, the previous home had been altered and extended several times, was of no historical value and was run down.” Despite this, RA and builder Rob Peagram Builders made sure very little of the old home wound up in landfill. “About 80 percent of the old home was reused in the new one.”

“We reused the old VJs (tongue-and-groove wall panelling), the ceiling and floor joists, the floor boards, decking and the weatherboards,” says David. “Rob stockpiled useful materials onsite, sorting out what was reusable and what wasn’t. We were very lucky – Rob and his team really believed in the project.”

Recycled materials were used in the wall frames, floor and roof frames, steelwork, linings, cladding, concrete floors and tiling. The mix of old and new gives the home character, and has obvious environmental benefits.

If you’d like to read the rest of this article you can buy this issue here.


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Cover of Issue 11
You can read more about Once in a lifetime in Issue 11 of Sanctuary magazine.

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Designer: Emma Scragg, David Gole and Simon Boundy of Riddel Architecture

Builder: Robert Peagram Builders

Furniture by Retro Moderne; fabrics by Mokum Fabrics; paintings (unless otherwise noted) by Michael Phillips; large-format prints by Michael Schlitz

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