As 2017 comes to a close, we look back at the top 10 stories covered in this final month of the year.

Click on the title to be taken to the original story, and let us know which your favourites were – or what else we should have covered.

1-1.jpg1. Subtropical modernism: Reinventing the Queenslander

Sometimes it’s easier to start fresh, rather than adding to a classic design. Other times, with the right approach, an alteration or addition can successfully reinvent (or at least reinterpret) the wheel.

Take Dover House in Queensland, for example. The project, designed by Shaun Lockyer Architects, involved the fusion of a traditional Queenslander with a concrete garden room.

The existing timber dwelling remains at the front of the site, while the concrete addition sits at the rear and out to the sides.

2.jpg2. Garden Wall House: A Patchwork Sanctuary

This project involved the insertion of a new three-bedroom residence as a second dwelling on the lot, adjacent to an existing garage on large block in Carlton North.

The block itself was a complex site with the existing garage and studio building to one edge surrounded by laneways, a large double-storey heritage terrace house facing the principal street front to the eastern side and the remaining land an overgrown, rambling garden that was too large to be properly maintained by the owner and lacked connection to the main house. 

3.jpg3. Peak architect body slams demolition plans for 19-year-old stadium

In November, the Australian Institute of Architects called into question a NSW government announcement to demolish two relatively new sports stadiums in Sydney: the Sydney Football Stadium at Moore Park and the Olympic Stadium at Sydney Olympic Park.

While the NSW government claims this is all about upgrading and bringing in new public facilities to the city, the Sydney Football Stadium is less than 30 years old, while the Olympic Stadium was built for the 2000 Sydney Olympics.

4.jpg4. Port Melbourne House: Spatial drama in the city

The denser, inner-city pockets of our major cities are particularly susceptible to long and narrow sites that preclude some of our more basic needs, such as space and light. When they took on one such lot in the inner-Melbourne suburb of Port Melbourne, Pandolfini Architects set about to remedy this without necessarily increasing the envelope.

Not only was the site naturally bound by its borders, but – as a century-old terrace house – it was further confined by strict heritage and planning controls. 

5.jpg5. Curtain Cottage: Adding volume without meterage

Architects working in Australia’s major cities are increasingly being forced into the role of spatial problem-solvers. Floorspace is an ever-shrinking commodity, but the human need for light and volume is not going anywhere. Which means that architects are not only having to pull out all the tools in their toolbox to address the disjunct between these two realities, but that they’re also having to invent new ones.

As Apparte Studio realised with their recent Curtain Cottage project, it helps when you can cover architecture, furniture and building all within the same practice.

6.jpg6. Behemoth “accordion-shaped” sculpture erected in major Sydney station

Earlier in the month, a 50-metre-long, “twisting, accordion-shaped sculpture” was been erected over the escalators at Sydney’s Wynyard Station – a surprise cultural addition to the city.

Created by Australian artist Chris Fox, Interloop is suspended via steel beams between two ends of the building. It hovers above four new escalators that travel underground from York Street.

The sculpture weighs over five tonnes, and incorporates 244 wooden treads and four combs from the station's original escalators. The wooden escalators were first installed at Wynyard Station in 1931, remaining to serve commuters for over eight decades before they were removed this year.

7.jpg7. 2017 National Building Design Awards announced

A 2016 Sustainability Awards finalist was named National Building Design of the Year at the National Building Design Awards.

Designed by Green Sheep Collective, Alphington Townhouses is a collection of four townhouses in the Melbourne suburb of Alphington. Each dwelling features spaces that allow for flexibility and the varied lifestyles of inhabitants.

The project also addresses the impact of vehicular access and parking, which often dominates developments. By minimising this, the townhouses are awarded with increased landscaping on the street, additional backyard areas, and the creation of internal courtyards.

8.jpg8. Delicate touch, maximum impact: Bluestone heritage terrace conversion

As much as Bluestone terraces are sought-after housing typologies in certain dense urban areas, this demand can often come from a lingering sense of nostalgia rather than the amenity they provide. Inadequate natural light, poor ventilation and general lack of connection to landscape are common issues with these inner-city fixtures – but alterations and additions similar to the one Altereco Design performed for Bluestone Terrace Pavilion in Williamstown, Victoria prove this doesn’t have to be the case.

9.jpg9. Skipping Girl Vinegar Factory Conversion: An antidote to “fast food architecture”

Adaptive re-use exists on a spectrum. The conversion of a heritage church into a small suite of offices is one thing, for example, posing its own challenges and requiring its own imaginative solutions. But converting an old vinegar factory, complete with 24 concrete vinegar vats, into a four-bedroom home, is quite another.

This latter is exactly what ONE20 Architects achieved (or more specifically, a three-level home with basement-level office) with the iconic Skipping Girl Vinegar Factory in Melbourne’s inner north. 

10.jpg10. Sustainable to the core: Revisiting Six Degrees’ “pedagogical” University of Tasmania design

Completed a decade ago, the University of Tasmania’s School of Architecture and Design in Launceston remains as relevant now as it was cutting-edge then. For the project, Six Degrees Architecture worked with Sustainable Built Environments to adaptively re-use an old heritage factory building that was reconfigured to reflect the university’s focus on pedagogical learning. Rather than being relegated to an afterthought, sustainability was at the core of the design from the project’s inception – which is why, ten years later, Six Degrees’ work is still a poster child for the longevity of thoughtful design.