All for the outlook

Situated on a small, steep block of land overlooking Brisbane, this four-level home was designed to take advantage of its topography and views
Legend to plan of modern four-level house buy area, design, diagram, drawing, floor plan, font, line, product, product design, text, white
Legend to plan of modern four-level house buy KP Architects: 1 garage, 2 entry, 3 lift, 4 study, 5 childrens room, 6 deck, 7 pool, 8 void, 9 kitchen, 10 dining, 11 living, 12 powder, 13 laundry, 14 WIR, 15 ensuite, 16 bedroom, 17 courtyard, 18 bathroom.

A million-dollar view is one thing most people envisage when they imagine their dream home, but it typically costs that much to make it a reality.

For the owners of this house, located in a quiet cul-de-sac on the edge of the Brisbane River, that sought-after view had been at their fingertips for over 50 years. Unfortunately they had only been able to enjoy glimpses of it from their low-lying 1940s home. So, having decided to rebuild, it was only natural that their new home would take full advantage of the view.

Designed by Natalie Dixon and Kon Panagopoulos of KP Architects, this four-level house overlooks the river with views of the Brisbane city skyline beyond. The original property was demolished and the site excavated for insertion of the new house. Situated on a steep 500m² west-facing site with a fall of approximately 10m from back to front, the house was designed to take advantage of its topography, says Panagopoulos.

"Because there are houses in front of the property, it was important to create that clear sightline, without feeling like you were looking over other people's roofs. Obviously the higher you go, the better the views become."

This concept informed the design of the house, which is based on a series of concrete platforms. The house is separated into four overlapping levels, with the upper level set back into the block to reduce its apparent scale when viewed from the street.


An internal staircase leads to the roof deck architecture, condominium, daylighting, door, glass, house, interior design, real estate, window, window blind, window covering, window treatment, gray, black
An internal staircase leads to the roof deck on the top level of this contemporary four-storey house. The breezeway looks from the deck and across the river to the park. The black frames and glass louvres complement the large areas of white. The design is by KP Architects.

On this upper level, a roof deck has commanding views of the river and cityscape, says Panagopoulos.

"It was important for us to achieve a nice scale of space. We wanted the design to be respectful in terms of dimensions so it didn't dominate the surroundings."

This was also an important factor with regard to council approval.

"Because of the nature of the block and the topography, we had to exceed the height restriction. It was a challenge getting through planning but in terms of streetscape, the scale was right, so that worked in our favour."

This sympathetic approach to the landscape influenced the choice of materials, as well as the architecture. The house needed to sit comfortably within its context and blend into its surroundings, while having more substance than the timber and tin homes typical of Queensland, says Panagopoulos.

Custom-made rugs were used throughout this modern house architecture, bedroom, ceiling, daylighting, floor, house, interior design, real estate, room, suite, wall, gray
Custom-made rugs were used throughout this modern house instead of carpet as seen in the guest bedroom. Simple, clean-lined window treatments ensure the visual connection through the house and to the views outside remains uncluttered. The design is by KP Architects.

For this reason, a simple but robust palette of concrete render, timber, painted weatherboards and black and white ceramic tiles was chosen, aligning with the owner's brief for contemporary, maintenance-free finishes that would stand up to the harsh sun.

The honest use of materials was carried through into the interior and directly informed the decor, says Panagopoulos. Timber panelling throughout the house is combined with concrete to create a sense of timelessness. These finishes work well with the neutral colour palette for furnishings and fabrics.

To increase natural light levels in the internal spaces, a funnel-like void was cut out of the centre of the house, creating an internal courtyard within which a solitary tree grows. Adjacent to the courtyard is a service core that contains the stair and lift.

On the opposite side, a small plunge pool at the lower level is connected to the upper courtyard by way of a water feature that allows the sound of water to filter through the house. Aside from reducing the need for artificial lighting, the void also encourages cross ventilation. And there are other advantages, too, says Panagopoulos.

"The void creates a visual connection to all parts of the house, particularly the lower level, which is dedicated to the grandchildren. Various views through the void connect the family on the different levels."

Oct 06, 2013
We know the specialists