JDA Co. honours the riverside in Brisbane family home

Jan 6, 2022
  • Article by Charlotte Huston

JDA Co. architects has delivered a Brisbane family their dream home that observes and respects its river views and steeply sloping site.

Located in Highgate Hill, the home is split over two storeys with a generous communal space including the kitchen, dining area and a master bedroom in the upper level.

A large open-plan living space with an expansive verandah spoilt with views of the iconic Brisbane River also adds to the space.

The two-storey family home features a large open-plan living space.

Moving throughout the home, the lower level comprises of two bedrooms, each with its own balconies, and a rumpus room for two lucky teens.

JDA. Co director James Davidson says his intent was to “touch the ground lightly”, working closely with engineers to incorporate a wide structural space usually reserved for commercial projects.

“This strategy allowed us to reduce the number of structural columns and cut back on the amount of earthmoving equipment required on-site,” he says. 

Elongated timbre finishes provide structure and semblance to the residence.

Fellow JDA Co. architect Clive Ba-Pe also says careful consideration was given to the placement of rooftop solar panels.

“The house is surrounded by dense vegetation, so we opted to retain the foliage and be smarter about where and how the solar panels were positioned.”

Other green initiatives include the introduction of a heat-pump water system that retains hot water over long time periods, as well as a large rainwater tank to service the site’s extensive landscape and irrigation system.

The home’s windows and doors have also been insulated with a glass coating that keeps them cool in summer and warm in winter.

Meanwhile, Low Volatile Organic Compounds paints were selected to help lower pollution and enhance indoor air quality with the JDA Co. team opting for a mix of timber and metal cladding for the exterior.

Clean and minimal interiors complete the overall effortless design of the home.

Among the home’s biggest triumphs are its versatility and elements of surprise.

“From the street, the house appears humble and unassuming,” says Ba-Pe.

“However, upon entering the property, the design reveals incredible sightlines through to the river.”

The homeowners are spoilt for riverside views.

Although it’s essentially a two-storey home, the design also incorporates a services’ terrace just below the second storey. This houses the water tank, heat pump and other services.

Back inside, the generous ceiling height in the upstairs study incorporates a loft space for storage and concealing air-conditioning ducts.

Downstairs, the architects repurposed the homeowners’ silky oak timber, reclaimed from the original site, into desks for their children.

Silky oak timbre encases the living spaces with warmth and polish.

Homeowners Peter and Sabine Griffin say they were “enamoured” by the quality of light throughout the house.

“The house opens up to the north, and thanks to a central void, the interiors are bathed in sunlight. Meanwhile, in the south, we enjoy spectacular views of the river.

“The communal space on the upper storey works very well for our family from a functional perspective but more importantly is a space that is a joy to live in.”

Photography by Mindi Cooke.

Based in Queensland, JDA Co. leverages sustainable design strategies to reuse projects — transforming cultural and commercial building stock into contemporary hospitality venues, commercial offices and theatres.

Recently, the practice refurbished the beloved Princess Theatre in Brisbane to her former glory.

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