Alcorn Middleton, Australia: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2022

Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our annual round-up of exciting emerging architecture studios. Meet Alcorn Middleton from Australia and its Peakaboo House

peekaboo house's view from the street and its sloped roof
(Image credit: Jad Sylla)

Brisbane-based studio Alcorn Middleton and Peakaboo House have made it into the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2022, our annual list of exciting emerging practices from across the globe, thanks to directors Joel Alcorn and Chloe Middleton's sense of passion, experimentation and love of detail.

Who: Alcorn Middleton

One of the youngest studios in this year’s Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory, Alcorn Middleton was set up in 2019, by Joel Alcorn and Chloe Middleton. ‘Our journey began well before Alcorn Middleton materialised in 2019,’ they explain. ‘It started back in 2013, very organically and unexpectedly, when we began working with each other, brought together by a mutual friend from university. And once we got to talking, we’d surmised that we both shared even more mutual friends, having studied at the same university throughout our undergraduate degree, without ever crossing paths. It didn’t take us long to realise we shared synergies in work ethic, drive, and passion for design.’

Both Alcorn and Middleton are trained in architecture and interior design, jumping between the two as each project requires, and bringing together expertise that allows them to look into each building at an extreme level of detail. The team now takes on works in both the residential and commercial realms, with Peakaboo House (pictured) being a key breakthrough project for the practice. Their approach is strongly influenced by the climatic conditions of south-east Queensland and northern New South Wales, where the directors grew up. At the same time, ‘we share a view that each project is specific to its site, which provides the best affordances and constraints that we [learn] from at the outset of our projects. This enables the prospect of uniqueness to be uncovered,’ they say. 

courtyard at peekaboo house by Alcorn Middleton in Brisbane

(Image credit: Jad Sylla)

What: Peakaboo House

Peakaboo House is an existing suburban home in Brisbane transformed to accommodate a multigenerational extended family. Instead of demolishing and rebuilding, the architects decided to use the structure’s original concrete walls and hardwood floors, extending and improving. The result is a composition of two ‘pavilions’ arranged across a single plot and united by gardens and outdoor pathways that help weave everything together, effortlessly blending inside and outside. 

The older structure was redesigned to become the older couple’s base, containing bedrooms and bathrooms for them, as well as guest rooms for visitors. The younger couple occupy the top level of the new addition in a self-contained loft-style studio, while its ground floor features an extended communal space with living, dining and kitchen spaces for all. Sharing resources, space and supporting one another, the inhabitants of Peakaboo House form a small, sustainable community. Environmental friendliness was also part of the equation, through the use of passive heating and cooling elements throughout. Meanwhile, the complex’s distinctive looks make it stand out in its residential neighbourhood, flagging it clearly as a vibrant home but also a distinctly contemporary structure. 

lady sitting in garden outside Peakaboo house in Australia

(Image credit: Jad Sylla)

Why: Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory 2022

Conceived in 2000 as an international index of emerging architectural talent, the Wallpaper* Architects’ Directory is our annual listing of promising practices from across the globe. While always championing the best and most promising young studios, over the years, the project has showcased inspiring work with an emphasis on the residential realm. Now including more than 500 alumni, the Architects’ Directory is back for its 22nd edition. Join us as we launch this year’s survey – twenty young studios from Australia, Belgium, Canada, Chile, China, the Czech Republic, Ecuador, France, Greece, India, Indonesia, Japan, Nigeria, Paraguay, Thailand, the UAE, the UK, the USA, and Vietnam with plenty of promise, ideas and exciting architecture.

living space at peakaboo house in australia

(Image credit: Jad Sylla)

kitchen detail at peekaboo house

(Image credit: Jad Sylla)

bedroom at peekaboo house

(Image credit: Jad Sylla)

couple sat inside peakaboo house in australia

(Image credit: Jad Sylla)


Ellie Stathaki is the Architecture & Environment Director at Wallpaper*. She trained as an architect at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki in Greece and studied architectural history at the Bartlett in London. Now an established journalist, she has been a member of the Wallpaper* team since 2006, visiting buildings across the globe and interviewing leading architects such as Tadao Ando and Rem Koolhaas. Ellie has also taken part in judging panels, moderated events, curated shows and contributed in books, such as The Contemporary House (Thames & Hudson, 2018), Glenn Sestig Architecture Diary (2020) and House London (2022).

With contributions from