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House of the Month // February

I have been struggling to make the decision as to which house I’d like to feature as the inaugural post of the House of the Month series. This is largely because I simply cannot narrow my many loved pieces of contemporary residential architecture to the point of one single favourite! It is rare, in fact, that I could name my favourite contemporary architecture firm at any moment in time, for I know that just around the corner – or just behind me – might be creeping some amazing until-this-point undiscovered design classic. But alas, we must start somewhere, and although I wanted to save an Owen & Vokes & Peters feature until later in the series, I just can’t get them out of my mind. So here we go!

I might say, that it was just as difficult deciding on an OVP favourite as it was an overall architectural contender for this category..! I feel that I may be doing a few OVP features, and with that in mind, will begin with my first: Four Room Cottage.

Four Room Cottage by Owen & Vokes & Peters

All photography by Jon Linkin

One of the perks of being Brisbane architects is that OVP often have the lovely task of rethinking iconic Australian architectural forms, so prevalent in many of Australia’s capital cities. This project is exactly that; the intelligent re-thinking of a simple workers’ cottage – which prior to the OVP intervention was constrained by the historic arrangements of space within and outside the building.

The Four Room Cottage project is approached in their typical considerate, creative, and methodic manner. Every aspect of the house has been contemplated with great sensitivity, so that in some instances things are simply repolished or repainted, essentially maintaining their original character and perhaps purpose. Yet in other instances, where necessary, architectural elements have been adjusted, removed, or added. These interventions are usually crisp, evident, characteristically OVP, and yet delicate, appropriate and fitting.

One of my favourite things about the catalogue of OVPs work in general is the careful approach to detailing, both inside and out. From the fine detailing of the interior custom cabinetry to their slightly obtuse approach to brickwork in the exterior spaces, it seems as though every minute moment in space has been considered with great complexity and thought. This project is no exception, and it is the detailing which gives it such distinct character and livability.



The exterior of the house is a balance between old and new // The historic cottage sits happily alongside the new addition, which recedes into the background, ensuring that it does not compete or overwhelm the older, picturesque part of the house.



An underlying approach in improving the layout is the conception of the house as a whole, with views through each space, connecting and enlivening the inner areas of the house with light and breezes.



Interior and exterior spaces are considered as inherently linked, which comes as a result of studying client needs and contemporary lifestyles. While the interior space is opened up to gather light and improve the relationship with the garden, it is also framed with architectural elements which have been put in place in the garden.



Where there once may have been solid walls now stands fitted cabinetry, in a style which at once evokes the cottage’a architectural history, and yet also gives the space a distinctly contemporary feel.



The delight of Brisbane weather is never ignored in an OVP design, which allows for some amazing interaction between interior and exterior space.



Materiality is such an important design element, and here that fact is evident. The new addition in black weatherboards distinguishes itself from the old house, and the brick work frames and grounds this lightweight building, once hovering over the steep slope toward the front of the house.



The brick detailing delineates the exterior spaces, exemplifies the flow between inside and out, and also provides for the more tangible functional purpose of a bench seat and outdoor fire place.



The garden is now fundamentally linked with the house via the brick path. It also provides a beautifully enveloped outlook from the interior spaces.



The link between materials old and new is evident along the side of the house // In the kitchen the vaulted ceiling gives the space an unusal wash of light.



Black, white, marble, and brick finishes and light from above provide the kitchen with unique character // The brick flooring flows from inside to out, emphasising the new link between the house and garden.



The existing window provides a glimpse to the rockery outside // Traditional open shelving hints at the cottage’s history.






The master bedroom is birght, airy and characterful, again with visual links to other areas of the house for an increased sense of space and the added bonus of extra light via shared sources.



In the hallway the views are directed toward greenery and small courtyard like spaces formed by the surrounding built environment, whist in the bathrooms picture windows carefully frame views whilst maintaining privacy.



Light, shadow, reflections and glimpses. New and old.


What a beautiful little foray in to some Brisbane history and contemporary design that was! Bravo OVP.


About the Author:

Our principle designer Poppy is a Masters of Architecture graduate from the University of Newcastle, Australia. She graduated in 2013 with First Class Honours, received the Dean's Medal and was awarded the Australian Institute of Architects NSW Chapter Masters of Architecture Graduate of the Year prize. In 2010, Poppy received the Eric Parker Travelling Scholarship encouraging the research and drawing of architecture.

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