Rosebery House - Highgate Hill, Queensland, Australia : 1997 : Andresen and O'Gorman
Rosebery House, constructed as a family residence in 1997, is located off a cul-de-sac at the southern end of a long narrow watershed that runs from Highgate Hill to the Brisbane River. The architectural intentions include establishing coherence in landscape / building relations, developing transactional space and creating degrees of transparency and enclosure through layered space. The landscape is characterized by its gully topography and its visual privacy despite its proximity to the city and its nearness to the Brisbane River. Site qualities also include three layers of plant growth creating filtered light and deep shadow - large trees, saplings and a vine growth that forms the third layer of vegetation typical of gullies in the area.
The spatial and physical continuity between the hill and the river was important to retain. Preserving the long, undulating space of the gully became influential in the decision to site the house as a long, narrow timber structure along its eastern slopes. In seeking to underscore the greater landform, to mend the site and establish points of coherence for the new construction, we created a mediating element in the form of a super-scale trellis for climbing plants to be erected along the lower contours between the gully landscape and the house.
The ‘freestanding’, timber landscape screen acts to; reinstate an edge to the gully, further define its volume and form a built element at the scale of the landscape. In order to preserve the scale of the gully landform the western screen is devised to conceal the domestic scale by blurring views of scale defining elements such as doors, windows and balustrades. The architectural exploration of transactional space included landscape intentions to layer a series of spaces between the west and east site boundaries in an attempt to draw out and intensify experience of the spaces that could be held in the gully.
The ‘free-standing’ screen, with the interstitial spaces between the screen and the house, mediates transactions between inhabited interior and landscape. The sheltered transactional screen / space moderates light, privacy, views and access as well as lines of movement across or through the space. The ‘space in between’ is also a place ‘in itself’ that supports fern-growth, an outdoor shower, independent balconies and a kitchen-bay that span across for outlook, the main entry and a flight of stairs leading to an upper deck. Here a transactional space services the every day functions but also conceals the dark, wedged space of the undercroft.
Layered spaces between - screens of planting, timber battens, glazing, posts, translucent and opaque walls for example - contributes degrees of transparency and enclosure amplifying experiences of place and occasion at the threshold. The long timber screen for instance creates another layer of transparency and enclosure beyond the room. This planted outer trellis permits the selective ‘erosion’ of the room enclosure and the introduction of filtered light and views through glazing. The glazed pavilions become simultaneously open and protected. At night as the interior creates a lantern-light in the landscape.
Text from the Andresen and O’Gorman Architects’ Statement
Photos : Michael Nicolson - courtesy Modern House
Axononmetric drawing : Michael Barrnett
Drawn images sourced from ‘UME 22 – Andresen and O’Gorman Works 1995-2001’ by Haig Beck and Jackie Cooper, 2011