When presented with a 1909 house last used as a mental health hostel, a visionary approach was required. Enter Vokes and Peters, who recognised the cultural significance of the unprotected house, and were able to balance these with the needs of the new owners.
This project was a complex undertaking, first involving the rehabilitation, conservation and extension of the historic house designed by prominent Brisbane architect, AB Wilson (whose family continue to run Wilson Architects today). The operator of the former hostel had enclosed all of the verandahs to maximise dormitory spaces, stripping the house of much of its character in the process. ‘Consequently its original relationship to its setting, beauty and elegance were almost illegible,’ says Vokes and Peters architect, Stuart Vokes.
The architects approached the renovation using the classic ‘raise and build under’ strategy commonly applied to Brisbane homes. Concrete and rough-rendered masonry was selected for the new supporting walls of the house and garden walls, which Stuart says ‘helps us manage practical issues relating to structure, termites and water, but also accentuates the delicate nature of the painted carpentry of the original house.’ Painted timber shakes (shingles) were then chosen as an addition to the original painted weatherboard cladding. ‘The shakes are like the shaggy sibling of the weatherboard,’ says Stuart. These timber shakes also give a handcrafted quality to the project, as the edge of each shake needed to be painted prior to installation.
The updated floorplan sees the kitchen occupy the hero ground corner position facing the pool to the east and garden to the north, then extending to a paved brick area. In the original rooms of the house, the architects rediscovered the spirit of their design by ’emptying the plan’ of all prior interventions, such as built-in cabinetry and new bathrooms. Connecting the entire house is a new stair ‘room’ combining drama and practicality.
Vokes and Peters are definitely THE Brisbane practice to be watching right now. In addition to taking out the Residential Architecture category in our inaugural TDF Design Awards for their Subiaco House last year, Habitus magazine named their Teneriffe project their House of the Year 2019!