It may be his first foray into the National Architecture Awards program but North Queensland architect-builder Jesse Bennett has come out on top, trumping a strong field of residential architects to win the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) at the 2015 National Architecture Awards.

Planchonella House in Cairns was designed and built by Jesse Bennett and can now comfortably claim to be Australia’s best new architect-designed house, backing up its win at the 2015 Houses Awards to receive the top new residence for 2015 prize from the Australian Institute of Architects.

Planchonella House was placed ahead of Balmoral House by Clinton Murray + Polly Harbison, Light House by Peter Stutchbury Architecture, Sawmill House by Archier and Australia’s favourite house, Villa Marittima, St Andrews Beach by Robin Williams Architect.

View the full list of winning projects from the 2015 National Architecture Awards here.

Read the full jury citation for Planchonella House by Jesse Bennett Architect Builder and see the other awarded projects in the Residential Architecture – Houses (New) category below:

Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) – Planchonella House by Jesse Bennett Architect Builder (Qld)

2015046560_3_JesseBennettArchitectBuilder_PlanchonellaHouse_SeanFennessy.jpgPhotography by Sean Fennessy

Jury Citation: Here is an architect/builder/inventor and an interior innovator at their combined best. The Planchonella House in Cairns is not constrained by climatic concerns or by a client who might have had differing design aspirations. It has a consistency throughout. Its most persuasive attitude is its invention and directed playfulness. As architect and builder Jesse Bennett informed us on site, ‘The form of the house evolved out of planning the internal relationships.’ This house was not formed from a singular concept but from an evolving set of often opposite relationships: open to closed container, concrete upper to concrete lower slab, concrete to glass, timber framing to metal framing, air to solid, planar to curved. The house often appears raw because of the directness of its materials but it is highly sophisticated and inventive in its detailing. The combination is surprising and confident and it is this that sets this house apart.

The Planchonella House also belongs to its place. The rear northern courtyard sets the datum for the large amoebic living platform. This courtyard, with its spongy carpet of green grass, is a northern harbour while the house proper occupies a southern viewing platform. With arms extending north and east, enjoying the calm lawn that faces upwards to the mountain and rainforest, the house focuses on the south, the long view and long drop of the impossibly steep site. It is to the south that the curvaceous edge of the two concrete slabs – floor and roof – are most wonderfully linked by the play ofglazed vertical panels, framing the view in rosewood, then floating in frameless glass. The fine black silicon lines of glass panelling joints are reminiscent of seamed hosiery. The joy of living is embraced at every viewpoint.

Detailing is never taken for granted. Every moment is an opportunity for a new analysis and a fresh invention. Glass sliding door mechanisms have been rethought, designed and cast; the thick bookshelf wall – lined with books on one side and black upholstered silk on the other side – has a long rosewood crafted handle that allows one to enter the inner sanctum and close out the public realm. It opens with a simple pivot. There’s a ‘femme fatale’ wardrobe that is a shop setting out of Sex and the Single Girl. The steel frames that support the stair treads also become the balustrade frames of steel to echo the frames of rosewood windows. All the furniture – like this house – has been designed to fit or echo relationships of harmony and surprise.


  • Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) – Balmoral House by Clinton Murray + Polly Harbison (NSW)

Photography by Brett Boardman

_2___DeanBradley.jpgPhotography by Dean Bradley

2015031010_0_SawmillHouse_Benjamin-Hosking.jpgPhotography by Benjamin Hosking

  • Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (New) – Light House by Peter Stutchbury Architecture (NSW)

Photography by Michael Nicholson