After the Brisbane River floods in 2011, this ex-1990’s cottage located in Chelmer, Brisbane, Australia, suffered major transformations. The River Room project, as the architects from Shaun Lockyer Architects decided to call it, needed a fresh new look. The primary requests were to establish a better connection to the river and make the house a little more spacious (and bright) than before. “This design was about maximising the connection with the river to create a open and light indoor / outdoor living experience.” The new built area captures stunning views over the river, while the rear of the house, completely renewed, allows now, the pale sunlight to sneak inside the house, during the cold winter days.
The interior is neat, airy and “wrapped” in timber. Floor-to-ceiling windows replaced one of regular walls, creating a more transparent and bright environment. Out of the sudden, the living room became brighter and warm, favouring social interaction. The clients have to adapt now to a new type of experience, in a more climatically responsive space. To increase the thermal mass, additional insulation has been installed in the ceiling, walls and floor.
Energy during the construction process was saved by using FSC-certified glulam timber instead of steel to create the building’s distinctive wavy roof, while the store’s external walls use hemclad, a highly innovative insulator made from hemp, which, like all plants, absorbs CO2 from the atmosphere as it grows. An 80,000 litre water tank below ground provides water for the store’s toilets and waters the site’s green wall’, which provides natural insulation, acts as an all-natural pollution filter near the car park, and helps to encourage biodiversity. The result is a building that uses a fraction of the energy of structures of a similar size, and is still very popular with local shoppers.
The best architects can create designs which will give clients and the public things they didn’t even realise they wanted, and this is especially important when architects are given the difficult brief of creating structures in much-loved, iconic areas.