The World’s Best House by Cox Rayner Architects

Left Over Space House
Paddington, Brisbane



This narrow private house demonstrates what can be achieved on the myriad of ‘left-over’ spaces in inner cities, such as disused easements or parking lots. In this case, a 3 metre wide tiny caretaker’s cottage, adjoining a Heritage Hall has been recycled and linearly extended into a family house and office for parents and three children.






The designers and owners, Casey and Rebekah Vallance, are Evangelical architects and desired to express their Christian philosophy in the way they created their home.





They viewed the work as a process of redeeming a broken site and enhancing relationships into a reflection of a restored state, cultivating people and place. Their motivation in this approach was to show love and empathy to people; the individuals, communities and society for whom they work, and in so doing, reflect Christ’s redeeming love to the world.




Although challenged by its site, they set about grafting old with new elements that belie its constraints. In the 3 metre wide frontage to the old cottage is a new office designed through its portals and window boxes to engage the street. The site slightly opens up behind the cottage to an open, roofed and screened staircase atrium which forms the primary social space. A small bridge is a library connecting it to kitchen and living room, and beyond to stacked bedrooms and a stair to a roof deck.





Privacy from close placed neighbours is gained by a series of iron screens whose perforations for light are the patterns of peeling paint of weatherboards on one of the neighbouring cottages. The screens slide or swing out to engage the neighbours when desired and to mediate different solar positions. They are one of an array of details rethinking the typology of the private house, no matter how small, as both sanctuary and communal participant.


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Awards: World’s Best House Award, World Architecture Festival 2013


Images: Courtesy of Cox Architecture, Casey Vallance, Christopher Frederick Jones
Text: Courtesy of Cox Architecture

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