The Oxlade House, designed by Arkhefield in Brisbane, Queensland, Australia, is as far removed from traditional architecture as possible, you would be tempted to think. Its sinuous rear concrete wall and striking graphic shape look nothing like the traditional Queenslander. Yet… around it, in New Farm, an inner Brisbane neighborhood, there are plenty of traditional homes and post-1960s housing stock. The area’s urban planning regulations imposed a Character Housing typology for the home, in complete apparent contradiction with the client’s bold contemporary design brief. Still, the Arkhefield team managed to reinterpret and abstract the features of a traditional house, all the while putting a contemporary spin on such notions as the solid ‘core’ of a house, verandahs, legible roofs and layered screening. The roof of the house generates movement both inside and outside. Its “abrupt transitions create difference, where as moments of seamless transition create sameness or openness”. The home drifts in and out of the outdoor landscape, as the corners of each room peel back to draw focus to the pool, deck and garden.
In choosing to focus their design of the Oxlade House on the creative shaping of the roof, the team at Arkhefield reiterates a recurring theme of their body of work – “the roof as a subtropical protective device, capturing and defining space”. The roof acts as the main catalyst behind the orientation of the entire structure and its constituting elements, as well as behind the way the space(s) transition(s) between the indoors and the outdoors. Moreover, the home’s interior and exterior walls bring into play the entire gamut of textures and functions, as some are permeable, some soft, some invisible, some hard and some moveable. “By drawing from these contextual conditions, a journey ensues in abstraction and invention, often offering unexpected results.”