As August comes to an end and we roll into September, we’ve decided to recap the top 10 stories covered this month.

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


How home-made invention keeps Frank Gehry’s amazing Sydney brick wall from falling down

It is any day now that Frank Gehry’s first Australian building, the University of Technology, Sydney’s (UTS) Dr Chau Chak Wing Business School, will be completely unveiled. Interested in the ‘science’ behind the building’s undulating brick façade, we spoke to the project engineers and found out that the building is able to stand today only because of a unique tie system that was first conceived in – of all places – a garage.

Brick innovations aside, some of you were more interested in the arduous cleaning task ahead for UTS as the brick façade will surely accumulate a lot of “pigeon poo” and be a “nightmare to clean”. Does anyone have any ideas on how UTS can avoid this problem?

Image: James Stuart


2014 House of the Year: Invisible House by Peter Stutchbury Architecture

Image: Michael Nicholson

The ‘thou shalt not covet’ commandment should not apply to residential architecture because this NSW mountainside retreat is definitely ‘covet-able’. Winning the 2014 Australian House of the Year award, it adorns the western edge of the mountain ranges and complements its surrounds with curved form and referential materials.

Praised for its connection to the scenic landscape, but also its modesty, resourcefulness and consequential delight, the house features a sculptural four metre cantilevered roof that reflects the sky, rendering it ‘invisible’. 


Five impressive Australian buildings showcase potential of precast concrete

Stamp House by Charles Wright Architects. Image: Patrick Bingham Hall. Source: Charles Wright Architects

Because who doesn’t like lists, right? Especially one that involves buildings made with precast concrete, a long lasting product that is highly versatile, fire safe, and has energy saving benefits. Our list included Charles Wright Architects’ Stamp House, a cyclone proof structure featuring cantilevers that mitigate the impact of flooding and cyclones, and the Hawke Building by John Wardle Architects and HASSELL with its misaligned precast panels. 


State vs. State: Australia’s six best commercial projects for 2014

SAHMRI by Woods Bagot. Image: Peter Clarke

A little state rivalry never hurt no-body, and so we pitted state versus state in the realm of commercial projects. One of our readers said the striking South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) by Woods Bagot in SA wins “by a country mile”, but NSW’s 8 Chifley Square by Lippman Partnership/Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners puts up a good fight. QLD, WA, VIC and TAS present some great options too. It’s not too late to tell us which one you think is best.


Greening Sydney: Australia’s first green roof and walls policy

The City of Sydney recently adopted its first ever green roof and walls policy for Australia, following on from trial installations in Sydney’s CBD since 2011. One of the projects highlighted is the three different types of green walls that scale the Goulburn Street Car Parking Station in Sydney. Is Australia ‘green enough’?


10 smart products for Australian homes

Geberit HyTronic 185 and 186 touchless sensor taps

Inspired by TIME Magazine’s July 7-14 issue, we compiled a list of 10 ‘smart’ products available in Australia that will add value to all homes.

This includes EnduroShield, an easy clean protective coating that reduces cleaning time by up to 90 per cent, Geberit’s HyTronic 185 and 186 touchless sensor taps that produce their own power and eliminate the need for a mains supply, and Glassworks’ SolarAdapt, Australia’s first Solar Responsive Thermochromic (SRT) adaptive glazing film. 


2014 BPN Sustainability Awards Finalists

NAB Docklands 700 Bourke Street by Woods Bagot. Image: Glenn Hester

We announced the 70 finalists for the 2014 BPN Sustainability Awards recently, and released a compilation of short descriptions for each project shortlisted across nine categories: Single Dwelling (New) , Single Dwelling (Alterations & Additions) , Innovation of the Year , Public Building & Urban Design , Multi-Density Residential , Large Commercial , Small Commercial , Office Fitout and Landscape Design .

Each article focuses on the key initiatives of each project, and is a great resource for finding out the best projects and products at the forefront of Australia’s sustainable built landscape.


Australian library wins international Public Library of the Year Award 2014

Image: Trevor Mein

Craigieburn Library in Hume City, Victoria, by Francis-Jones Morehen Thorp (FJMT), has been internationally recognised as the recipient of the 2014 Public Library of the Year Award. The competition was established by the Danish Agency for Culture, and awarded at the annual meeting of the International Federation of Library Associations and Institutions (IFLA).

Described as a “good example of how to use a library to create a sense of belonging for all demographic groups as both a learning centre and a gathering place in the City of Hume”, the library’s reference to the Australian landscape and use of locally-sourced rammed earth and materials also particularly impressed the jury. All-round win for the nation!


Global competition in prefabricated housing must be met by Australian Architects

Modscape builds modular homes like this one in Tintaldra, Victoria, in 12 weeks. Image:

It seems that Australian building firms will lag behind global competitors if it does not tap into the market for prefabricated housing. In our report, Professor of Sustainability at Curtin University Peter Newman says prefab housing is a “next generation housing construction industry”, and a “game changer in cost of housing, competitiveness, efficiency and productivity”.

Whilst there is strong potential for Australia to develop a new manufacturing base, it will slide backwards if it does not leverage the technology, and ultimately lose out to overseas firms that will fight to meet the needs of the local market.


Frank Gehry’s UTS treehouse in Sydney built to last in bricks

A continuation of our top August story on brick innovations, we asked Jason Veale, AECOM’s project manager for the Dr Chau Chak Wing Business School, how the team reconciled sustainability and longevity for the project, which makes use of 320,000 custom-designed bricks laid by hand.

Giving a variety of reasons, Veale notes that the building will be prized by UTS for much longer than the average building, which is likely to reduce the future need for new materials. This contributes to the overall sustainability of the project, but also reveals that a ‘starchitect’-designed building is, by default, expected to last longer than other structures. Do you agree?