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Above & Beyond: A Sensitive Remodel That Celebrates the ‘Undercroft’ in Brisbane, Australia

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Above & Beyond: A Sensitive Remodel That Celebrates the ‘Undercroft’ in Brisbane, Australia

September 19, 2022

When architect Kieron Gait was asked to add a bathroom, space for entertaining, and two additional bedrooms to a couple’s modest Queenslander (a traditional Australian house that’s raised on stilts) in Brisbane, he came up with a two-part solution: elevate the home to create more living space in its “undercroft” (typically used for storage), and move the entire structure further back on the property, up a gentle slope, for better light.

“The ‘build under’ is a typical solution to creating more space in Queensland—lifting a timber house and building under—but [usually] they build walls directly under the existing, and the resultant spaces are poorly planned and often dark and unpleasant,” says Gait. With this “build under,” though, designed for a school teacher and a doctor and their four kids, Gait and his team made sure that the newly functional space under the original building would be airy, inviting—and open to the outdoors.

After all, in a part of Australia where the coolest month of the year (July) still sees an average high temperature of 69 degrees farenheit, it makes sense to design a home that allows for seamless indoor/outdoor living. “We looked to create a shelter under the existing house that felt like it was part of the garden rather than the house,” says Gait. “In the summer it can get hot and humid. In these hot months [the undercroft] is often the most comfortable part of the house—celebrating it is a somewhat nostalgic way of redefining the character of this space.”

Below, a tour of this cool, breezy home. And be sure to scroll down to the bottom for a peek at the house pre-renovation.

Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones, courtesy of Kieron Gait Architects.

the couple&#8\2\17;s original queenslander house was raised an additional \ 9
Above: The couple’s original Queenslander house was raised an additional 1.5 meters (almost 5 feet) to make space for the airy new living space below.
the entire home was also moved to the rear of the property, where it now sits h 10
Above: The entire home was also moved to the rear of the property, where it now sits higher on the slope to take advantage of better light. A front yard has now replaced the backyard. This is the view from the open-concept kitchen and dining area to the front of the house.
a wrap around bench features prominently in the home&#8\2\17;s spacious por 11
Above: A wrap-around bench features prominently in the home’s spacious porch.
the open concept kitchen and dining area. all the built ins were made from loca 12
Above: The open-concept kitchen and dining area. All the built-ins were made from locally sourced spotted gum wood.
gait chose a sheet of brass for the backsplash in the kitchen. &#8\2\20;it  13
Above: Gait chose a sheet of brass for the backsplash in the kitchen. “It has a warmth and reflectiveness to it, pairing well with the timber and concrete. It will also patina with age,” he says.
concrete floors made a lot of sense for the space. &#8\2\20;concrete can be 14
Above: Concrete floors made a lot of sense for the space. “Concrete can be used inside and out. It’s resilient and not precious. And it would have been a material typically found under the house,” says Gait. In addition, it has a high thermal mass, which helps keep the space cool.
there are now plenty of nooks for the family of six to be both together and sep 15
Above: There are now plenty of nooks for the family of six to be both together and separate.
the passively cooled home (no air conditioning) has plentiful and large windows. 16
Above: The passively cooled home (no air conditioning) has plentiful and large windows.
concrete and spotted gum wood are the same materials used outside the home, ano 17
Above: Concrete and spotted gum wood are the same materials used outside the home, another way to connect the exterior with the interior.
kieron gait architects bardon undercroft house 12
Above: The spotted gum stairwell juts into the older part of the house upstairs. This part of the home remains largely untouched.
a pleasing blue tiled bathroom. 19
Above: A pleasing blue-tiled bathroom.

Before

the house, center, prior to the remodel. 20
Above: The house, center, prior to the remodel.

For more inspired design in Australia, see:

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