Type to search

Finding the narrative with Lineburg Wang

Finding the narrative with Lineburg Wang


Brisbane-based architecture practice Lineburg Wang embodies the contrasting values of confidence and quiet. Its founders talk about the importance of respecting history and context while also generating freshness and surprise.

Michael Lineburg and Lynn Wang established their Brisbane practice, Lineburg Wang, in 2016. Focusing on bespoke residential and small-scale commercial projects, they already have an impressive portfolio of distinguished homes behind them.

As emerging architects, both began their careers in prominent Brisbane-based practices. This influence is detectable in the demonstrated maturity of their work. The practice has been noted for asserting itself as a notable force in a tradition of elite talent. Precocious in its impact, Lineburg Wang is already making ripples in the industry despite its adolescence.

“A term we come back to is this idea of ‘confident yet quiet’,’ co-founder Michael Lineburg explains. Confident, in the way of their bold and innovative transformations, yet quiet in their sympathetic approach to existing conditions and sensitivity to history and context.

Lineburg Wang
photo: Trent Wallace

The duo has been recognised for their unique response to traditional Brisbane architecture, embracing the timber-and-tin and post-war brick vernaculars for which the region is recognised. Lineburg and Wang strive to retain a sense of lineage, while also imbuing their properties with a renewed vitality and coherence.

“We’re often dealing with buildings that already exist, rooms that already exist, situations that already exist. It’s all about tying together the individual parts, stitching together to make the whole,” says Lynn Wang. “Particularly with Queensland homes, often they’ve existed pre-war, and six or so people have had their go at adding to the house and fixing it up. Our process is to understand why these things have happened, and also lay on top of that a new brief, and try to distil that into something that ties it all together.”

photo: Trent Wallace

The duo’s careful interrogation of a brief is reflected in their respectful treatment of a continuous narrative. Understanding the timeline of a home means they can react to it in a positive and sensitive way. They look to the existing conditions for pragmatic solutions to problems. “We not only want to stay true to the existing skins and shells and skeletons: it’s about how we adapt to and celebrate the shells we already have,” says Wang.

Lineburg and Wang have an intimate appreciation for the specificities of Brisbane property. “The nature of lightweight construction is that it tends towards DIY construction quite easily, so these homes do get manipulated and hacked at,” says Lineburg. “Unfortunately, in a lot of instances, these buildings will have evolved more than five times over the last 80 years. That comes back to then thinking about the original plan diagram of this home: why was it the way it was? Why has it been manipulated over these years? If we can then distill it back to an understanding about the core, original building, we can think about what we want to strip away and what we want to add to it.”

Lineburg and Wang look for the constants in architecture, to produce work that not only has familiarity and precedent, but also won’t age with mercurial inclinations. “There’s so much going on in architecture, there are so many trends and forecasts. The idea that you can work with a material language that doesn’t age is something that really appeals to us. We try to steer ourselves away from things that might be ‘trendy’ as a way not to speak to when it was edited or altered,” says Wang.

photo: Trent Wallace

“Preferences for how to live change through generations. People these days like to live open-plan and be able to see through rooms and see through gardens and live on the edge. These houses that are lifted up on legs don’t naturally tend towards the type of living that we’re currently seeking,” Wang explains. Instead of fighting these preconditions, they embrace them.

Although ‘timeless’ may be an overused trope in architecture, it really does describe the impression Lineburg Wang has left on the Brisbane landscape. They design for the future by referring to what has existed in the past. “We try to be sensitive and acknowledge history and context, but also have the confidence to drive the projects that we make,” says Wang. It is this balance that comprises their practice’s confident yet quiet ethos.

Lineburg Wang is a model of restraint and humility in its modest interventions. At the same time, the pair is reinterpreting the traditional through their recognisable style and use of rhythmic formal language, making them both contemporary and timeless. The duo has particular knack for revealing history and breathing a new life into it, making their process both restorative and transformative.

Lineburg and Wang strive for formal clarity and material integrity in their work. At this stage, they have no plans to expand. “At the moment, it’s just the two of us, and we’d like to keep it that way for as long as we can. We’re not above getting help when we need it, and we do have a great core of graduate friends and colleagues we’re able to draw upon,” says Wang.

Like many Australians who have had to adjust to working from home, Lineburg and Wang have found their greatest challenge is negotiating a sustainable work/life balance. The nature of design is that it is never entirely complete and creative possibilities can be disconcertingly limitless. This is further complicated by the fact that the pair is living in one of their projects. “Our home has been our slowest project yet,” Wang jokes. But their suite of houses has been very well-received, and their trajectory of the past five years shows no sign of slowing any time soon.

photo: Nikolas Struger, Ravens at Odds

Lead photo: Trent Wallace.

This article first appeared in AR167.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *