James Russell Architect

Christian Street House

We are fortunate to live with a benign subtropical climate. Christian Street House in Clayfield, an inner north suburb of Brisbane, sits on the east side of a rolling hill, opening its face to the morning sun and bay breezes. It’s back is buried in the hill, protected from the harsh summer sun, storms and winter westerlies. High gables make a patio to street, a covered arrival and gathering place with barn doors to living behind. Cars participate without becoming a barrier between street and life within. There are many ways to move around this place. Journey from street can take you across patio, down outdoor stairs and around garden to meals, living and water. The boys can sneek in from street via a grungy service lane, they can come and go independently. Their rooms have a more public side to garden and gathering. Retreat for Kate and David is more like attic, accessed across patio or up a secret stair. The ground plane steps from cave spaces bunkered in to the hill, hidden spaces for bathing and sleep, down to garden and meals, then further down to lounge, the morning sun and prospect. Christian Street House is made from brick, timber and concrete. Timber is prescribed in the local council code. It references timber and tin architecture that pervades most areas of the inner suburbs, but not Clayfield. We use timber for the loftier structure that opens to the street, our verandah and barn. Inviting familiar structure with a shorter life than the masonry ruin. Timber sits on a heavy concrete and brick base making cave spaces that are cut in to the ground towards the rear of the site. Masonry is used to hold back earth, make a quiet space for retreat and sleep, but opens directly onto garden. Brick and concrete makes these spaces, a structure resilient to termites and requiring minimal maintenance. Material and craft is on display, it is clear how it is made and materials enjoy getting older as they patina.   COMPLETED: 2014 FLOOR AREA: 402m² DESIGN TEAM: James Russell & John Ellway BUILDER: Ian Cramb & Geordie Dickson ENGINEER: Grant Rosbrook, STA Consulting PHOTOGRAPHY: Toby Scott & John Ellway   Construction time-lapse