With November behind us, we take a look at the top 10 stories from the month that was. 

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.jpg1. Could Hempcrete be the next big sustainable building material?

Industrial hemp is a variety of the Cannabis Sativa plant, but unlike its marijuana relative, hemp has long been valued for its fibre content, strength and versatility – features that have caught the attention of builders, architects and manufacturers worldwide.

In 2010, North Carolina-based architecture practice Push Design brought to life a ‘breathable’ home prototype whose exterior walls are made of 12-inch-thick Hempcrete. Hempcrete is an eco-friendly compound of industrial hemp, hydraulic lime and water that has an insulating value of R2.5 per inch.

2.jpg2. Introducing your 2017 National Architecture Awards winners

In early November one of the most anticipated annual architecture events in Australia was held in Canberra. The Australian Institute of Architects’ (AIA) 2017 National Architecture Awards was the culmination of months of chapter awards around the country, from which 44 projects emerged as winners.

These projects, selected from amongst the state and territory winners, were chosen from a highly competitive field of more than 983 entries (of which 72 were shortlisted). In total, the national jury presented 35 awards and 13 commendations across 14 categories.

3.jpg3. Bondi Beach, but on the inside

The Sydney suburb of Bondi is known for beach views, but not necessarily from within the guts of someone’s home. The exception to this is Living Screen House, a private slice of Bondi Beach within Bondi. Taking the idea of contextual inspiration and deepening it, the single residence references the iconic blue waters of its community with a literal, swimmable slice of water that runs through its interior.

When CplusC Architectural Workshop took on the design of the project, the brief received was for a family home that would be capable of balancing the dual needs of entertainment and privacy. 

4.jpg4. Crone head office move part and parcel of larger cultural change

Over the years, Crone has added some well-known building designs to Sydney’s CBD, including urban icons such as Centrepoint Tower and World Square.

So, it makes perfect sense that when it came to moving from its home of 25 years into a somewhat more functional space, Crone took a historical step and relocated its Sydney headquarters back to World Square – a building that it designed back in 2008.


5.jpg5. Two Rock House: A home with more than one meaning

Sometimes a residential project’s name can be abstract, requiring a bit of thought. Others are a just little more obvious.

Take Two Rock House in South Australia, for example. The Wolf Architects-designed house sits between two rocky formations on a hilltop site. The dwelling is also home to two ‘rock stars’. As the architects describe, “[Two Rock] is a space created around music, for music and all things artistic”.

6.jpg6. Inside Sydney’s iconic Griffiths Teas building, days away from completion

With its irregular shape and its rich history, the Griffiths Teas building has long been an architectural icon of Sydney’s city fringe. But despite having maintained an imposing presence on its central triangular corner for over a century – scarcely marked thanks to its robust industrial envelope – it has spent the most recent three decades of that time out of use.

Now, after three years of development, planning and building, the Griffiths Teas building is just days away from re-opening its doors in its new form, as a residential building transformed by PopovBass Architects.

7.jpg7. A ‘Crisp’ re-design for one of Collingwood’s oldest timber dwellings

The re-working of a heritage house is no simple task, and can present several paradoxes for the architect. These projects are made even more difficult when the existing structure has suffered from years of neglect.

Such was the case for architects Robert Nichol & Sons, who were tasked with breathing new life into one of the oldest remaining timber dwellings in the inner-north Melbourne suburb of Collingwood, a pre-fabricated cottage that had been imported from England during the 1850s.

8.jpg8. Fresh Prince, tiny houses and the “new generation of home hunters”

Although the tiny houses built by Fresh Prince are used in the same, temporary manner as hotel rooms, there’s something less depressing about the thought of living in them. That “something” is actually several things, and they’re not hard to guess at.

The Sydney-based design and construction company is run by partners Alice Nivison (a designer and builder) and Richie Northcott (a builder and eco-consultant), who say they have always been drawn to “the challenge of designing small spaces”, particularly if these spaces are able to strike the balance between sustainability and liveability.

9.jpg9. A Mexican-Swiss chalet in the Aussie bush

“Wow! But shit...what to do...?”

This was Perversi-Brooks Architects’ reaction when their client, an ex-chef and ex-toy museum owner, approached them with the task of creating a Mexican-Swiss chalet in the middle of the Australian bush, to be carved out from the existing 1970s-built mudbrick.

As it stood, Malmsbury House was “dark” and “somewhat drab”; an anachronistic structure in picturesque agrarian surrounds. The problem with such a radical vision for the renovation was that the existing structure was protected by a number of overlays.

10.jpg10. Triplex Apartments: A humanist home that demurs to its landscape

It’s not uncommon to hear architects railing against council regulations. But in some cases, these design constraints can lead to a more integrated and human outcome.

Take Triplex Apartments by Luigi Rosselli Architects. The eastern Sydney site the architects had to work with is known for its prohibitive slopes and contours. The local council had implemented restrictions that forced architects and builders to limit residential building heights along these sloped sites; instead of building up, these council restrictions oblige stepped designs that follow the contours of the landscape.