Northgate Engawa House

Status: Completed

2021 Dulux Colour Award Commendation - Single Residential

In their original brief, our Japan-loving clients wanted to lift the house and build under to accommodate a multi-generational family.

Connection and separation became key themes, as the family ideally would lead independent lives but come together in mutual spaces. Consequently, the outdoor dining area inhabits an intermediate level between the main residence upstairs and the two-bedroom apartment below. This space and its relationship to the garden provides for social interaction between the family, without particular ownership from either upstairs or downstairs.

In Japanese architecture, an engawa is a covered area facing a garden that also serves as a passageway or sitting space. In Queensland, the veranda provides a similar role and the crossover between these two cultural similarities enabled some interesting architectural exploration in thresholds and filtration of privacy. In this project, we’ve peeled away the rear of this Queenslander to create multiple spaces occupying the edge and expanding the habitable threshold between inside and out.

Eroding areas of the existing floor plan significantly improved connections between the living spaces with landscape. Where a bathroom was once tacked on to the rear corner, now there is a sunken garden. By opening up this enclosed rear of the house, a serene green outlook has been created that is enjoyed from above, below and within. The peaceful aspect is complemented and contained by the landscaped roof of the single carport.

Our client has an excellent knowledge and passion for Japanese gardens and interpreted a landscape concept design into a living sculpture.