The Garden Shed

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Brisbane’s Rex Addison returns to his childhood home to build a personal studio with plain materials and exhilarating geometries: revealing significant creative advances.

Photography Patrick Bingham-Hall

top Main (south) facade, with seats on both sides of an existing bridge across the gully. above Looking east along the entry to the printmaking studio, with the architect’s Parliament House model hanging on the left wall.

North facade from the eastern end; printmaking studio in the foreground.

Detail of the south-west corner.

Project Description
This studio, accommodating Rex Addison’s practice of architecture and printmaking, is the first stage of new construction in a long-established Brisbane garden. It is approached by an existing footbridge across a small gully from a central palm grove. The roof tilts up to the north, east and west to draw in dappled light through fibreglass clerestories above lean-to storage and service areas. To the south, the roof forms two large bays with sashless double-hung windows looking back into the gully. The structure is hardwood framed with exposed studs at 1200mm centres outside ply-clad lower walls. Above sill height, girts and nogs support external horizontal zincalume cladding with intermittent corrugated fibreglass hopper flaps.

Architect’s Note by Rex Addison
Recently I subdivided my parents’ double-sized block to build my own studio as part of a development in my childhood backyard. I use the studio not only for my architectural dabblings but also for printmaking and as a workshop. When the house (under construction) is finished, I hope it integrates my life activities more completely, blurs distinctions … makes a new order. ‘Order calms’ says the Amish sticker on our fridge. I know the studio will play a key part in that.

Comment by Peter Skinner
Rex Addison’s practice is distinguished by his pursuit of typological continuities. Earlier projects have led local re-examination of the timber and tin suburban house, the fibro beach house, the suburban housing block and municipal streetscapes. In his latest project, a bijou relative of the backyard shed, Addison is more concerned with personal continuities. After 25 years, he has returned to the gully garden of his childhood to add a new layer of construction to the site. In planning his new studio, he has carefully worked around paths, terraces, a bridge and a barbecue shelter built by his grandfather and father. The pavilion is sited directly over the remnant foundations of his own student project, a Wright-inspired, hexagonal studio/shed. As in much of Addison’s work, the key to understanding the building’s formal language lies in its roof geometry. An inversion of his familiar hipped, wall-shading roofs, this upcast, valleyed form admits filtered sunlight throughout the day. Addison maintains a centred, enclosing, spatial quality by inclining the translucent clerestory planes into the room. The centrally recessed massing creates a two-horned figure of half-gables to the southern approach. This lively, compositional duality honestly expresses the bipolar functions of Addison’s two work areas: the west for architectural drawing, the east for printmaking. These contemplative activities are not compartmentalised but are placed side by side, sharing the garden view. The canted geometry vaguely hints at Taliesin West and indirectly recalls Ed Oribin’s Wrightian Cairns studio (1960). Unmistakably, though, Addison’s pavilion is a product of, and extension to, his own distinctive folio of work. It restates some familiar architectural themes while extending techniques of form and construction. The exposed timber framing system, a trial of methods for the larger house, is a frugal yet expressive development. Cladding steps from the outside to the inside of studs to generate storage niches internally, to maintain stepped weathering overlaps and to enrich the textural surface.
In this carefully composed but materially humble structure, Addison has achieved a thoughtful linkage from the public heritage of formal architectural ideas through local building traditions to his own history.
Peter Skinner is a senior lecturer in architecture at the University of Queensland.

Gully Studio, Taringa, Brisbane
Architect Rex Addison. Engineer Mani Salmon. Builders Lon Murphy and Ian Campbell.



Published online: 1 Sep 1998


Architecture Australia, September 1998

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