Habitat on Terrace is an example of how densification and development can respond to the character of the Queensland vernacular through its contemporary interpretation.
The two critical drivers informing the conceptual framework for the project were context and feasibility. The architectural design makes direct references to the existing traditional Queensland house on the site, through reinterpreting, not only shape and proportion, but also the experience. A feasible solution required a greater yield, which encouraged a compact dwelling footprint that was reliant on verticality. The result is a contemporary, three-storey interpretation of the traditional Queensland house, which embraces sustainability through passive design principles of cross ventilation and orientation to the sun.
The form of the development is generated from the gabled façade, and adorned with bay windows referenced from the existing timber house located on the site.
The three rear dwellings repeat this concept to form a set of ‘glued together’ houses. North and south facades are linked with a ribbon of folded metal sheeting which forms the triple-gable roof that extends down to bookend the form on the east and west sides.
Being in a neighbourhood dominated by houses, this approach manages to retain the comforting scale for the individual and provides identity to each dwelling while still achieving homogeneity.
The use of height allows the compact floor plans to be separated by function. The lowest level is quite permeable and is for cars. The external entry stair next to the garage leads up to the main level, which is for living. Here we find the lounge, kitchen, dining and terrace. The sleeping level is private and located on the third level. Verticality layers privacy.
The compact and efficient floor plan uses little space and still achieves a better quality living environment.
Living spaces extend into the landscape through the use of full height bifold doors. Floor and ceiling finishes seamlessly continue outside to further add to the feeling of spaces extending outdoors. There is a genuine connection between inside and outside. Despite being compact, the living areas feel generous through borrowing outdoor spaces and vistas.
Being a development project, over capitalizing was at front of mind. For the project to be feasible, the yield was of critical concern. This in turn, drove the compact footprints and the three-storey program.
With a limited budget, there was a level of care in the apportionment of the budget across the various spaces and components. Items that added to the overall design vision was prioritized over less important fixtures and fittings.
The design approach was grounded on the town planner and the architect working very closely to develop a site strategy, which allowed for a code compliant development application.
The success of the project was heavily dependent on the strong partnership between the architect and the builder. Particular attention has been given to the interface between different materials and surfaces. Simple materials have been put together with careful detailing and craftsmanship to achieve a high level of finish.
Founded in 2010 by Erhard Rathmayr and Monika Obrist, REFRESH*DESIGN is an architecture studio, based in Brisbane, Australia, offering personalised and collaborative architectural services with a strong focus on design. The team has grown to include Corinne Trang and Ashneel Maharaj, now adding vast experience to each project.
At REFRESH*DESIGN we collectively believe that great architecture can lead to a better functioning society. We aim to use design as a tool to enhance people’s lives in a holistic way. We do this through balancing the individual’s motivation together with the impact of each project on the environment as well as on society.
Our work has a strong focus on sustainability, which we define as the capacity to endure; it is contextual, adaptable, harmonious and long lasting; well considered in the use of space, materials and technology.
REFRESH*DESIGN has been awarded with national and international awards for their residential projects.