Freedomroo – Inside Highgate Park House designed by Brisbane architects Vokes and Peters

A cramped old cottage has been transformed into a sprawling modern masterpiece - but you'd never know it from outside

Behind the wall of this whitewashed house is a modern masterpiece – complete with a sparkling swimming pool, a sun-drenched courtyard and living spaces that flow from indoors to out

  • A historic cottage has been transformed into a modern masterpiece – but you’d never know it from outside
  • Built in the 1860s, the house is believed to have been home to one of Brisbane’s first colonial settlers
  • Brisbane architects Vokes and Peters honoured the historic past but added many contemporary fixtures 
  • The renovation took the title for best ‘Alteration and Addition over 200sqm’ at the 2021 Houses Awards

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A cramped old cottage has been transformed into a sprawling modern masterpiece – but you’d never know it from outside.  

Built in the 1860s, Highgate Park House is believed to have been the home of one of Brisbane’s first colonial settlers, George Wilson, who gave the inner-city suburb of Highgate Hill its name.

By the time architects Vokes and Peters were hired to restore it, the traditional weatherboard cottage had crumbled into a dilapidated ruin severely disfigured from a bungled renovation that robbed it of much of its original features. 

A cramped old cottage has been transformed into a sprawling modern masterpiece – but you’d never know it from outside

Built in the 1860s, the cottage is believed to have been the home of one of Brisbane's first colonial settlers who gave the inner-city suburb of Highgate Hill its name

By the time architects Vokes and Peters were hired to restore it, the cottage had crumbled into a dilapidated ruin severely disfigured from a bungled renovation that robbed it of much of its original features

Built in the 1860s, Highgate Park House (pictured) is believed to have been the home of one of Brisbane’s first colonial settlers who gave the inner-city suburb of Highgate Hill its name

The architects honoured its historic past by mixing heritage features such as ornate metalwork and decorative brickwork with modern fixtures including an open-plan kitchen and a sunlit hallway that runs the length of the house. 

A protective wall made from masonry and concrete encircles a garden courtyard with a swimming pool and patio that leads inside to the dining and living rooms.

The carefully laid floor plan provides privacy to the bedrooms and bathrooms while bringing a sense of the outdoors into the living spaces. 

The architects honoured its historic past by mixing heritage features such as ornate metalwork and decorative brickwork with modern fixtures including an open-plan kitchen and a sunlit hallway that runs the length of the house

The architects honoured its historic past by mixing heritage features such as ornate metalwork and decorative brickwork with modern fixtures including an open-plan kitchen and a sunlit hallway that runs the length of the house

A protective wall made from masonry and concrete encircles a garden courtyard with a swimming pool and patio that leads inside to the dining and living rooms

A protective wall made from masonry and concrete encircles a garden courtyard with a swimming pool and patio that leads inside to the dining and living rooms

Overlooked by two towering apartment blocks, it was essential to ensure the home and its connection to the outside world was protected from view. 

The owners who commissioned the rebuild grew up in the area and have a sentimental affection for the neighbourhood. 

A review of the design by Architecture Australia described it as a perfect blend of ‘familiarity and nostalgia’. 

The carefully laid floor plan provides privacy to the bedrooms and bathrooms while bringing a sense of the outdoors into the living spaces

A review of the design by Architecture Australia described it as a perfect blend of 'familiarity and nostalgia'

The carefully laid floor plan provides privacy to the bedrooms and bathrooms while bringing a sense of the outdoors into the living spaces

Overlooked by two towering apartment blocks, it was essential to ensure the home and its connection to the outside world was protected from view

Overlooked by two towering apartment blocks, it was essential to ensure the home and its connection to the outside world was protected from view

The owners who commissioned the rebuild grew up in the area and have a sentimental affection for the Highgate Hill neighbourhood (pictured)

The owners who commissioned the rebuild grew up in the area and have a sentimental affection for the Highgate Hill neighbourhood (pictured)

The house took the title for best ‘Alteration and Addition over 200 square metres’ at the 2021 Houses Awards, with judges praising the architects for preserving some of the cottage’s historic features. 

‘The new additions translate the form and scale of the original weatherboard cottage with a robust materiality that is fitting of both the heritage of one of the owners and the migrant history of the neighbourhood,’ they said in their statement. 

‘This thoughtful project takes advantage of its site, not only for the benefit of the young family who lives there but also for the enrichment of the immediate neighbourhood.’

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