Inner city living is sometimes at odds with the dream of owning a beautiful garden space. However, this converted South Brisbane warehouse has defied the odds by showcasing a spectacular garden in an urban living space.

The property, located on Dock Street, was originally a mechanic workshop, but is now a three storey apartment, in the style of a New York loft. A roof deck provides stunning 360-degree views of Brisbane city.

The warehouse renovation was completed over the course of a year, with architects, landscapers and builders all working side by side. The property was completed in September 2014 and was named by the Housing Industry Association as winner of the Queensland Renovation of the Year Award for 2014.


The owners of the property moved to South Brisbane from the western suburbs, and were looking for a unique and dynamic inner-city living space. “When first deciding we wanted to do this with the architects and landscapers we specified we wanted something where everything was interconnected,” owner Lesley-Anne Houghton said. “We wanted a space that was functional and flexible. With the kids all grown up, we yearned for something we could change when we wanted and something that was uniquely us.” 

An amazing indoor garden has been created by Darryl Mappin of West End’s Mappin’s Nursery and Aquarium. Darryl’s focus was on constructing something sustainable, recycled and reflective. “The owners are arts-driven people, as am I. They wanted a garden to come home to that would be inward looking, reflective and dynamic,” he said. The garden design was heavily influenced by the works of artists Kandinsky Andy Goldsworthy. Goldsworthy’s influence can be seen in a mural with stacked rocks running up a wall, creating a floating illusion. Kandinsky’s works have a strong focus on geometrics and colour; the main garden feature wall uses this geometry in its copper mural. Mappin utilised a variation of bright green air plants and epiphytes for their ability to cling to the brick exterior. He has created a garden that works perfectly with the dynamic nature of the house, allowing a different view of the garden from each level. 


The owners and their architect, Laura Pascoe from Surrounding Architects, both cite the library as their favourite room in the house. The library is made cosy with a collection of books and artefacts from the owners’ overseas travels, along with materials like wooden panelling and exposed brick. The high ceiling keeps the space from feeling tight, and gives the room a real New York feel. Views through to the adjacent dining room window to the Brisbane River, along with a close connection to the inner courtyard, make it the perfect space for settling in for an afternoon of reading.

The guestroom also provides a beautiful view of the garden through a series of perforated ply ceiling panels that have been repurposed to create sliding doors. These panels provide a glimpse of the garden and beautifully reflect the morning light.

The whole house is a cosy, peaceful and serene living space. You would never guess that it is located so near a bustling city centre.

Words by Sarah Clarry | Images by Shantanu Starick and Camera Obscura