Modern Queensland granny flat achieves connection with Viridian

Returning to the project type upon which they built their reputation, Kerry and Lindsay Clare recently completed a granny flat as suburban pavilion. It might seem a long way from their more recent, award-winning, public projects, but this modest structure of plywood, steel and Viridian glass encapsulates an all-too-rare spirit of environmental connection.

The opportunity for profound and intimate architecture can occur at home. In suburban Burleigh Heads, not far from the rolling surf, the Clares’ remind us of this skill to make a large statement with modest means. Aspect, prospect and privacy are all artfully composed in a suburban street not known for such quiet innovation.

Architecture is all about fingerprints. Not the type often found on windows and walls, but those that shape, pattern and forge their designers’ legacy. These unique characteristics are the giveaway of their creators. This is apparent in the latest work by husband and wife team Lindsay and Kerry Clare with a small suburban granny flat at Burleigh Heads.

It all seems a world away from the hustle and bustle of the Gold Coast high-rise just 15 kms. to the north. Architecture is less an occupation than pre-occupation. It’s why the Clares’ can be considered 
in a similar light to the mid-20th century husband and wife team of Charles and Ray Eames whose craft had such far-reaching consequences. While the Clares haven’t explored furniture-making like the Eames’, their design rigour and enduring partnership have a similar conviction.

Gold medalists of the Australian Institute of Architects in 2010, their Queensland Gallery of Modern Art (2006) stands as a bravura work of elegant understatement. More recently Melbourne’s design-challenged Dockland’s precinct, benefited from the opening of the Clare designed city library. Despite the usual commercial buffeting, it attains its gravity not with leaden mass but subtraction and refinement. More reminiscent of early Wright Brothers’ flying machines, the library contradicts its more ponderous neighbours as if in levitation.

He was also very knowledgeable about Viridian glass. Wayne was really on the case. The other thing to say is that his people were craftsmen and were interested to find solutions for this small project. Lindsay Clare, Project Team

Their latest project is comprised principally of corrugated steel, laminated timber and Viridian glass. It virtually turns back the calendar to the ’80s and ’90s when they were based on the Sunshine Coast and among the leaders in environmental place-making along with Gabriel Poole and John Mainwaring. Lightweight, filleted and layered, their designs speak of the authentic rather than generic.

The granny flat is one of their smallest projects in a long time, yet loses nothing in the DNA transfer from grand public to modest private. Its planar qualities and broad-bladed pivot doors for instance, borrow from those at GoMA that so effortlessly link to its shaded riverfront. The opportunity for profound and intimate architecture can occur at home. In suburban Burleigh Heads, not far from the rolling surf, the Clares remind us of this skill to make a large statement with modest means. Aspect, prospect and privacy are all artfully composed in a suburban street not known for such quiet innovation.

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