Raven Street House by James Russell Architect

Raven Street House by James Russell Architect

Location: Fortitude Valley, Queensland, Australia
Year: 2010
Photo courtesy: Toby Scott

There is a boat from my childhood, Makaira, which inspires many of my projects. In that boat I felt cradled and protected, but if I chose, I could open up to and be aware of the broader context around me.


Three or four of these boats would raft together, each one acting as a room with a space in between. We would enjoy meals on one boat, play cards or sleep on another, and play in the water or wrecks nearby. We learnt from each other and moved in smaller but breathable spaces. As a structure, what a beautiful work in timber!


Raven Street House is an alteration of and addition to a traditional worker’s cottage in the inner Brisbane suburb of West End. Like Makaira, it is protective of the owner’s young family and artwork but creates a greater awareness of the country surrounding the structure.


At the Raven Street House, the new structure respectfully plays with the tradition of timber, but also reworks the dark Victorian core.


The worker’s cottage opens to the street as gallery and workspace while domestic life is positioned within the new structure — behind and under.


The site slopes gently to the rear, allowing the addition to take advantage of the space provided by the undercroft of the existing cottage. A frame and floor of ironbark and compact laminate forms the verandahs on which the family lives. H-shaped columns take cladding of timber, coloured and textured glass, and curtains.


Coloured, textured glass lines east and west boundaries, reminiscent of traditional housing in the area. The walls glow at dawn and dusk, filter views, and manage air movement.


Ironbark flooring creates the ceiling below: the undercroft. Slatted edges allow rain and water from bathing to fall through. Awnings protect the sleep-out from south-western storms and winter winds. Northern and eastern sunlight penetrates deep into the plan through courtyards and a glass-roofed void within the worker’s cottage.

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