Our 2015 project talk series kicked off on Thursday 29th January with a full crowd keen to catch Stuart Vokes from Brisbane firm Owen and Vokes and Peters present an insightful (and social-media infused) talk entitled #doublecourtyardhouse.
Using a collection of his own Instagram photographs to guide the presentation, Stuart discussed the Double Courtyard House, an extension and alteration of a typical timber hillside home in Brisbane designed for a couple and their extended family. With Instagram growing in popularity as an effective visual platform amongst architects, Stuart was also an enthusiast toward the effectiveness of this App as a device that is capable of many things: documenting and expressing architectural works in a story telling process; sharing the value of the work throughout construction to completion, with a quickness and ease of accessibility that allows fleeting moments and ‘half-baked ideas’ to be captured; and its ability to instigate conversations between followers, potential clients and fellow architects.
The notion of narrative was rich in Stuart’s talk as he revealed the role that it plays on numerous levels for OVP. Within the Double Courtyard House, the process of establishing an evocative brief with the client through the creation of a story as to how they would imagine living in their new home was an effective and highly personal method of using narrative to guide and test the design and consequent arrangement and quality of spaces.
On a broader scale, Stuart revealed the untiring practice method through which OVP seek to build an in-depth knowledge of site and setting in a process of reading the places within which they work and acknowledging the stories that already exist.
In the Double Courtyard House the narrative that is read and that which is created come together in what Stuart refers to as ‘genuine acts of architecture’: moments built into the new and old which respond to local observations, an element of editing, creating, and re-creating to establish a new narrative composed of a delightful collection of playful moves, fragmentary structures, preserved artefacts and reinterpreted traditions, all embedded amongst the client’s own narrated spatial ideals.
The Double Courtyard House and Stuart’s images of its progression through to completion were honest in revealing the topics that he discussed and the concepts that were revealed as being essential to OVP and their way of creating architecture. It was illuminating to hear of their admiration for the beauty that occurs in the coming together of carpentry and masonry, revealing of time, tradition and practicality through an acknowledgement and wisdom toward the realities of building in Brisbane and a determination to work with immanent-imperfections and site issues as new possibilities not problems.
We were thrilled to have Stuart present this beautiful project on his short visit to Perth. His personable manner made for a fun presentation, and, true to the intentions of the CODA Project Talk series, expressed the Brisbane-based project in a relatable manner: dismissing the tendency toward glossy hero images and constructed glamour shots, and instead revealing the beauty, genuineness and depth of conceptual underpinning that can be exposed in work-in-progress imagery and simplified photography.
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