Commendation for Housing

St Lucia house by Peter Skinner and Elizabeth Watson Brown

This is an article from the Architecture Australia archives and may use outdated formatting

This is the architects’ first design collaboration in twenty years of architecture - their own family house. Functionally the house is zoned into five interlocking levels that give a vertical gradation of spatial intimacy. On a compact suburban site, the house looks onto a small courtyard encircled by three fully grown trees. The principal living volume overlooking the court is an ambiguous and complex space at the heart of the narrative promenade, which links the five levels of the building to the courtyard. Spatially, this room is conceived as a modern mutation of the verandah - an elevated, half-open space which evokes simultaneous sensations of prospect and refuge. The architects have used the project to gently proselytise for a modern architecture in Brisbane which explores the expressive potential of architectural space. Just as physiological comfort in the subtropics relies on the generous flow of cooling air around the body, they believe a comparable psychological satisfaction can be derived from the funnelling, pooling and release of architectural space.

Images: Jon Linkins

Jury Verdict
The vernacular “Queenslander” house developed when living moved outside onto the verandah. In the striking St Lucia House the verandah is moved inside in the sense that its principal volume - the large kitchen/dining/ living/deck space - is elevated (a piano nobile) and overlooks a garden courtyard through high operable north-facing windows shaded by mature trees and roof overhangs. The interlocking five level house (slab floors, pine-framed walls, sheet finished) rises from teenage bedrooms at courtyard level to a poolside family room, the central living space and parents’ bedroom, and concludes in a bridge-like study loft. It is a handsome exercise in generous indoor-outdoor spacing characterised as “regional modernism” in which, rather than an elaboration of construction, structure and fabric, the principal expression is the experience of architectural space.


Design and project architect
Elizabeth Watson Brown, Peter Skinner
Builder Greg Thornton Constructions
Structural consultant Bligh Tanner
Site details
Location St Lucia,  Brisbane,  Qld,  Australia
Category Residential buildings
Type Houses
Project Details
Status Built



Published online: 1 Nov 2000


Architecture Australia, November 2000

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