Indooroopilly House, designed by architects Paul Owen of Owen Architecture and Michael Lineburg of Lineburg Wang is a house of intriguing opposites. It was designed to celebrate the qualities of Brisbane as a subtropical, river city while acknowledging the traditions of the ‘Queenslander’. Towards the street, a densely planted verge animates the outlook, while from the back of the site, the Brisbane River and vestige landscape bring drama to a generous living room window. Responding to the opposing outlooks of the street and the Brisbane River, the architecture is realised in two parts. “The rear of the building is masonry and concrete and feels grounded in the hillside,” Michael says. “But the front is lightweight and is designed to be elevated above the garden.”
The street elevation tells the story of a lightweight pavilion, recalling the weatherboard expression of the traditional ‘Queenslander’.
“We think of weatherboards as quintessentially Queensland in identity and we used a weatherboard product here because it appears familiar and sits comfortably in its context,” Michael says. The pitched roof and weatherboard facade appear familiar in both form and material, but on close inspection, the architecture communicates something very new. “The front facade is an abstraction of a front verandah – a contemporary take on what we understand homes to be in Queensland,” Michael says.
An asymmetrical roofline contributes to the contemporary expression of the architecture. A neat, square window set back behind the wrapped ‘verandah’ adds to the strong linear form and rudimentary shapes which bring a playful sensibility to the whole. “We considered the facade as a compositional exercise,” Michael says. “It’s a play on the juxtaposition between what is lightweight and its opposite, this heavy, rendered garden wall it sits on.” The garden wall plays a multifunctional role, concealing the garage while establishing the grounded base for the two-storey home.
Linea weatherboards were selected because they offered a more durable alternative to traditional timber cladding. The fibre cement substrate offers consistency in size and finish. “An advantage can be that these boards don’t shrink or split and because they come in very long lengths, there are very few vertical joints,” Michael says. “What is most important of course is that they keep water out and hold their form.” The Linea weatherboard can be cut and fixed in a similar way to timber while providing a cladding that is low maintenance and hardwearing.
Beyond its functional purpose the weatherboard skin of the Indooroopilly house results in a richly poetic outcome. “The weatherboards produce really strong shadows, which turn the architecture into a visual graphic,” Michael says. “It means the observer doesn’t focus on nail holes or imperfections; they simply enjoy the light being cast on the surface the house. As architects we love playing with those moments of light and shade.”
Credits: Words by Michelle Bailey | Photography by Toby Scott