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Autonomy and communal living – Newport houses by Open Architecture Studio and Jasper Brown Architects

Autonomy and communal living – Newport houses by Open Architecture Studio and Jasper Brown Architects


Located near Redcliffe, Queensland, Newport houses are two homes with clear personalities. But from afar, the projects appear as one generous waterfront home.

The Newport houses are a collaboration between long-time friends Michael Bailey and Jasper Brown.

Newport houses.

Bailey, who is the founding director of Open Architecture Studio, says the client’s brief was atypical – design both an entertainer home for themselves and a separate, more discreet house for one of their mothers.

“It was almost an oxymoron in that the client wanted two houses that felt and operated like they were one,” explains Bailey.

“He asked for two separate houses that could divide into two in the future, allowing them to maintain the main house they live in.”

The smaller house where the client’s mother resides.

The finished look is two homes that strike a tricky balance between autonomy and communal living while also being multi-generationally friendly.

Anchoring the plan of the homes is a shared courtyard, designed as a collective green space that provides light and views to the bedrooms, while also serving as a space for the client’s dogs to socialise.

Connected to the courtyard is also a shared office. The bedroom and office wing – coined the ‘The West Wing’ by the architects and client – is accessible from both houses and offers views across the courtyard to the water through the living spaces.

“Communal living is certainly a lost component of our society; to enjoy living with multi-generations of family and integrating living with work must be carefully considered and properly designed,” says Bailey.

“There is an undeniable social focus to these two houses that you might not otherwise find in two houses that sit side by side.”

Describing the two homes as an “introvert and extrovert”, Brown says the houses can come together and also provide places to retreat.

While the main dwelling is more architecturally explorative, the smaller home is more intimate.

“Despite appearing as one home, their nature is unique and distinct,” adds Brown.

Newport houses feature a neutral palette of natural stone and timber with some bursts of eccentricity and natural light.

In the main house, there is a sunken living space, media room and bedroom retreat occupying the entire first-floor level.

In the living room, a deep-set leather lounge in marshmallow pink plays off the lashings of copper finishes.

Outside, the wet-edge pool is neatly tucked under the roof and fits into the lake to appear as part of the “topography of the landscape”, explains Bailey.

“The water doesn’t end at the edge of the lake. It becomes part of the house.

“When you sit in the lounge, your feet are below the level of the pool, and you’re surrounded by water on two or three sides.”

This layered terrain with multiple vantage points to the water is replicated throughout the main house.

The corridor connecting the ‘West Wing’ communal space is delineated by a clean austere rhythm of skylights.

A large quadrangular piece of floating stone accentuates the void between the more private realm and the communal spaces.

“Our ambition was for richness in both spatial and material thresholds,” Brown says.

Photography by Cathy Schulser.

Open Architecture Studio is an architecture and design practice based in Brisbane. In line with its name, the studio has a culture of ‘openness’.

Also based in Brisbane, Jasper Brown Architects primarily works in residential, multi-residential, retail and small commercial sectors. The studio’s goal is to create innovative and sustainable contemporary architecture for its clients.

In more residential design, FIGR Architecture makes richness and vibrancy go hand-in-hand with city vibes in That Old Chestnut.


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