Calm blooms in the house of jacaranda
For architect Con Zahos the jacaranda tree brings a sense of calm; a reminder that he succeeded in his mission to integrate his house and his backyard.
“When I designed this house, it was all about what happens outside,” Mr Zahos said. “The yard works, it’s very calming. It’s what creates tranquility in the space.”
The director of Loucas Zahos Architects bought the property in Taringa, 5km southwest of Brisbane, three years ago and set himself a challenge: to extend the existing two-bedroom Queenslander and keep the 20-year-old jacaranda as king of the garden.
“Working with the existing jacaranda was a fixed point,” said Mr Zahos, an architect for 20 years. “You couldn’t go beyond it.”
Another constraint was the steepness of the block, which is located on one of the hilly ridge roads in Brisbane’s suburbs. Mr Zahos decided to treat the 1930s home as a guesthouse and add a two-level modern extension that effectively cascaded down the block as a residence for his family.
His design shows how to work with a steep slope to produce an outlook that isn’t restricted to gazing over treetops.
“A lot of these Queenslanders tend to be horizontal so you tend to be living on a deck, quite high up from the ground,” Mr Zahos said. “We wanted our living area to be connected to the backyard.”
Glass doors on the lower level of the extension open out from the kitchen, dining and living areas to the terrace. The use of glass throughout the home, including the master bedroom, makes the tree visible from multiple points. A concrete staircase leads from the cottage through the two new levels of the house and links the old and new aspects.
“The thing I like the most about the place is the outlook, the cascading sculptural elements in the garden,” Mr Zahos said. “I like the way that works.”
Mr Zahos demolished the kitchen and lean-to of the cottage but has otherwise kept its original features, including stained-glass windows.
“We’ve kept the cottage in its original state,” he said. “All we’ve tried to do is simplify the palette by doing everything white and black . . . to give it more of a contemporary feel.”
Mr Zahos said keeping the Queenslander allowed him to keep the character of the street and bring contrasting energies of yin and yang to his home. “The Queenslander is like a prop to the street and the extension is all about the backyard,” he said.
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At Loucas Zahos, it is our approach that sets us apart – quality with commercial success. As a results driven service, ideas are our currency and a challenge always represents the opportunity for strategic growth and design. It is this mind-set that has enabled us to continually break new ground and remain at the forefront of our industry for more than two decades. >