Celebrating Australia’s best residential architecture, excellence has been rewarded by ‘House Awards’, an annual program, in eight categories, with the best architecturally designed house receiving the premier award of ‘Australian House of the Year’. Set within a historic farming property in Tasmania, Shearer’s Quarters by John Wardle Architects, won the house of the year award which is both a working farm and a place of retreat. ‘This deft touch has created a house that is an exemplar for contemporary residential architecture, simultaneously functional and beautiful. This apparently simple house has an effortless relationship to the built, cultivated and natural landscape.’ (House Awards Jury) More information on the awards after the break.
New House over 200m²: Big Hill by Kerstin Thompson Architects
This house is a direct design response to site, form and utility of material, which combine to create a solid, robust shelter against the Southern Ocean’s exposure. Disclosure of the view is subverted by the compressed triangular plan, yet the experience is heightened at the place where the prospect is most revered. In the words of the architect, “the right angle triangle is most productively aligned with the forces of the site. The long side of the triangle acts as retaining wall struck against the slope of the land.” Inside this house, rooms slide into each other, dissolving the problem of further enclosure. The plan is unrestricted, and a sense of infinite space is achieved. Materials are reduced to a palette of concrete, glass and timber, underpinning the desire for a coastal retreat to be basic and creating an embedded modesty. This house is deceptively simple and its actual quality belies this simplicity, recalling the origins of the shack, creating an authentic, contemporary retreat.
New House under 200m²: Shearer’s Quarters by John Wardle Architects
This refined shed is the first of several new buildings to be constructed as part of a small cluster that includes a 1840s cottage at a historic farming property in Tasmania. Built on the site of the original shearing shed, the 130-square-metre building with modest accommodation for eight shearers, rural contractors and visitors has been settled into the land, almost tailored to the landscape, such that it sits in deference to, and in contrast with, the original homestead perched on the cliff. Other inspired contextual relationships have been formed by aligning the building with the fall of the land on the south and the line of the 1840s cottage on the north. The skillion on the west transforms to a wide gable as the plan broadens to make space for the communal room and to open towards a view over the ocean. Very much a sophisticated shed that has been built using many recycled materials, sheeted externally in corrugated galvanized iron and beautifully lined with timber, each of its rooms enjoys a different framed view of the landscape and benefits from a well-tempered environment year-round via passive systems.
House Alteration and Addition over 200m²: Annandale House by CO-AP
This house is a delightfully unexpected response to the Victorian terrace renovation brief that is typical in the inner-city suburbs of Sydney and Melbourne. The two-storey front portion of the house is retained and used as bedroom spaces. At the rear, a serpentine pavilion weaves through the site, slinking low to the ground with new floor levels that correspond to the natural topography, and which are barely perceptible to its adjoining neighbors. Pockets of “outdoors” impart breezes, light and sun into the living spaces, and infuse the interiors with garden views. The beautifully detailed addition creates a domestic realm that is open to the garden, yet wholly private. A restrained palette of colours and materials has been sensitively conceived, responding to the strong presence of the adjoining former piano factory brick wall on the northern site boundary. Most importantly, the project offers a strategic and appealing alternative to the rear-of-house terrace addition.
House Alteration and Addition under 200m²: Four-room Cottage by Owen and Vokes
This elegant architectural reinterpretation of a traditional cottage avoids most of the common pitfalls of transforming the timber Queenslander house by valuing its standard organisational and structural order. Here, the strategy of stripping the house to its structural core, a pyramidal roof over four rooms, has freed the perimeter for an architectural choreography of views, light, space and well-judged scale. Further enriching are contrasts in volume, highly considered details, crafted joinery and invitations to occupy the home in a variety of delightful places. This project presents ideas for a model that can be reworked: the “pure” space of the generic rooms at the house core offers what was once termed “loose fit for long life” – a solution for endurance through flexibility of use, in contrast to wet areas which are less flexible and more regularly refurbished. The jury was astonished by the tiny footprint – the addition is only five square meters, which has made it possible to preserve the open space of the garden while simultaneously achieving an increased sense of spaciousness and liveability in the house.
Apartment, Unit or Townhouse: Airlie Bank by Neometro with McAllister Alcock Architects
So often in Australia, apartments are poorly planned, leaving little scope for any interior design rescue. Not so at Airlie Bank. The bones of this project are well placed, while good use of natural light, sensible planning that is easily adaptive to a relaxed and comfortable lifestyle, light and fresh air to every room, and a recessive yet functional kitchen all work together in a neat composition. The quality of design extends well beyond the architect’s desire for “refined materials which express their natural and raw state.” Natural side light to kitchen benches; niche lighting to bathrooms; utility areas that are hidden yet accessible; a “borrowed” study; well-planned joinery; practical, elegant sanitary fittings; a generous terrace as outdoor living room extension – all of this adds up to a project greater than the sum of its parts, and one that achieves a high-quality design outcome. A sense of space, light and air is both implied and real in this apartment design. Take out all of the furnishings and still it is a delightful place for city living.
Heritage: Rooftop Pavilion by Andrew Burges Architecture
In Australia, the term “heritage” generally embraces late-nineteenth- and early-twentieth-century buildings. With the original house built in 1938, this project sets a benchmark for judging interventions into our valuable heritage fabric. This design has been completed with intellectual rigor, using the issues of contemporary heritage building as the anchor for an adaptive reuse proposal. Illustrations, analytical drawings and studies clearly demonstrate the understanding and imagination applied to this project by the architect in response to the client requests. This house has transformed a sound but prosaic buildings by expanding the usable space within the confines of the original structure as well as providing harbor views. The recessive lightweight zinc-clad addition atop the original brick structure completes a successful and integrated architectural form and sensitively considers and responds to its neighborhood context. The architect has crafted a highly functional and sculptural spatial arrangement within a tightly constrained envelope, forming an arresting and engaging backdrop for contemporary living using a notable heritage starting point.
Outdoor: Marimekko House by Ariane Prevost Architect
This family home speaks of the way great outdoor spaces can enrich domestic life. A diverse suite of outdoor experiences shapes the journey and defines occupation. This adroit overlapping of building and landscape begins with the sweep of an oversized front stair and culminates in a backyard that draws the adjacent parkland inside. In a nod to Western Australia’s desirable climate the outdoor spaces are placed at the top of the spatial hierarchy. The somewhat ubiquitous idea of a seamless indoor-outdoor life is convincingly realized through generous openings and carefully curated views. On the main level a herringbone-patterned brick floor creates a spacious platform for informal living. Upstairs a roof garden provides more usable outdoor space, but also collects rainwater and acts as a living thermal blanket. This verdant space is edged with a simple pool fence that acts as a trellis, and screens of stacked timber and concrete provide privacy. The palette is simultaneously playful and prosaic and includes salvaged, recycled and repurposed materials. This is a house that celebrates all that is great about life in Australia’s garden suburbs.
Sustainability: House Reduction by Make Architecture Studio
The design approach for this house is intrinsically sustainable – “quality, not quantity.” Most renovations involve additional floor area, but here the footprint of the house is reduced while at the same time improving the quality of space. Efficient planning and attention to detail has ensured that each square meter of the home is used, and the result shows how to make better use of existing dwellings. A key decision was to make spaces multifunctional, particularly the outdoor room. A series of painted timber batten screens encloses the space, and can be positioned according to the direction of the sunlight and breezes throughout the day. This intermediate space effectively modulates the outdoor conditions and is used accordingly. When the screens are closed and the glass sliding doors are open, the room becomes an extension of the adjacent dining room. When the screens are open, it functions as an external terrace. House Reduction also follows first principles of sustainable design – good passive ventilation with high louvres to expel hot air, solar planning and sustainable material selection – and it promotes occupant operability as opposed to mechanical conditioning.