Capturing Light in an Urban Space

natural light -elev - east This residence has recently been constructed in one of the laneways of Fortitude Valley, just outside the Brisbane CBD in Queensland. Using smart orientation and well designed glazing features, a light and airy modern house has been constructed.

This urban block with an area of about 200m², fits a house with an approximate 90m² footprint. The architect, Andrew Wiley proposed a house that is naturally lit with a spacious feel in this confined perimeter. This was done working with interior designer Benta Wiley, to maximise the effect of light play on the artworks and sculptures intended for the house. The builder, Nick Chatburn & Co, worked in conjunction with G.James Glass & Aluminium to provide the glazing for the project.


There are two façades taking advantage of open areas outside to maximise views and natural sunlight entering the 3 storey building. In particular the east elevation has a glass wall the height of the building.  This wall provides naturally light to an atrium that every room in the house opens into. Glass fins support the expanse of frameless glazing. The effect of this light well gives the house a spacious feel, enhancing the flow and communication between living spaces.

Blue glass intensifies the colouration of the sky outside – used in the atrium and sliding door/windows on the north and east faces. These large windows are made from sliding doors that enable 2100 high windows.  As a safety barrier, glass balustrade is installed to the interior. This maximises the amount of light that flows into these rooms.

Shutters sit on the outside of these windows, promote a modern feel to the houses exterior.  Internally the shutters provide an insulative shade barrier, blocking the harshest rays yet letting light filter through the gaps and cooling air that flows between them. The detailing for these doors was developed at G.James – they sit on a large structural angle that is fixed to the outside of the building to give them the floating appearance.

Natural Light Features

Natural light penetrates from one side of the house to the other with the use of glass internal doors, slit windows strategically positioned to the south and west faces, and glass roof lights. There are two of these with opaque glass on the ground level that give the office and laundry a bright lift.

The third glazed sky light is a glass canopy located at the top of the stairs, leading onto the roof. An opening at the top of a space such as the atrium draws rising hot air up and out, naturally cooling the entire house and enhancing air flow through it. The glass canopy leads to a stunning outdoor area overlooking the neighbourhood, made of self cleaning glass.  Being completely see through, it doesn’t create a visual barrier in the centre of this space, but divides the different areas up for their individual uses.

Bringing the Best of the Outdoors Inside

The entire house incorporates the enjoyment of being able to make the most of the Queensland outdoors and lifestyle – starting as you enter the house.  The front door to the property is through a wide frameless glass door.  This electronically operated pivot door opens into what seems like a courtyard complete with a well planted pond. Over the pond is another frameless sliding door operated automatically, allowing lush green plant life outside to become part of the welcoming committee. This space is in fact the inside of the atrium.

Interior Inspiration

The house is an inspiration, and a beautiful example of what can be achieved with limited space in a medium density urban area.

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Products by G.James

  • Entry – toughened clear glass into 475 series surround framing with frameless pivot door
  • Atrium – Structurally glazed laminated blue glass with fins into 450 series surround framing. (External blind by builder)
  • Hinged Internal and Back Doors – Toughened glass frameless doors into 475 series framing and glass channel hydraulic hinges.
  • Auto Sliding over fish pond – Toughened glass frameless door with 475 series glass channel surround frame.
  • Dining Window – 131 series offset sliding window, 3.6m long with a 1.2m sash.
  • Sliding window / doors – 245 series commercial sliders with blue laminated glass. Sliding shutters are made from G.James extrusions by a third party, and incorporated into the 245 sliding track. The glazing sits on large angle bracketry on the external face of the building to give it the seamless appearance.
  • Down stairs sky lights – white translucent glass structurally glazed to stainless steel pressings.
  • Glass roof / canopy – Sides are Low E  heat strengthened laminate on Stainless steel stand off.  Roof top glazing is self cleaning, Low E heat strengthened  laminate with polished SS pressings.
  • Fixed glazing – white translucent glass in 450 series framing.
  • 3 Shower screens – frameless shower glazing – one of each style -bay window, single shower screen panel and square base.
  • Extrusions finished in a stone grey powder coat.