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    Australia’s best residential architecture recognised at 2017 Houses Awards

    Nicholas Rider

    The “deceptively simple” renovation of a timber cottage has taken out the top prize at the 2017 Houses Awards.

    Designed by Vokes and Peters, Auchenflower House was acknowledged for its “sustained investigations into the Queensland vernacular, and the straightforward application and sensory qualities of utilitarian materials”. The modest project took out the not-so-modest sum of two awards: Australian House of the Year and House Alteration and Addition Under 200 Metres.

    Houses Awards is an annual program celebrating the best Australian residential architecture. Awards are distributed across nine categories, which represent different housing typologies. The ultimate accolade is Australian House of the Year, awarded to the best project from the eight other categories.

    Winners of the 2017 awards were announced on 4 August 2017 during a gala held at the National Gallery of Victoria.

    Full list of winners below: 

    AUSTRALIAN HOUSE OF THE YEAR

    Auchenflower House (QLD) by Vokes and Peters
    Auchenflower-House-by-Vokes-and-Peters-Image-Christopher-Frederick-Jones.jpg
    Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones 

    This project comprised the alteration and addition of a timber cottage in Auchenflower, a suburb in Brisbane’s inner-west. The jury noted that “Auchenflower House offers an inventive model for working with traditional housing on suburban blocks and provides an intelligent and poetic paradigm for current practice”. 


    NEW HOUSE UNDER 200SQM

    Balnarring Retreat (VIC) by Branch Studio Architects
    Balnarring-Retreat-by-Branch-Studio-Architects-Image-Peter-Clarke.jpg
    Photography by Peter Clarke 

    Balnarring Retreat is a private residence that eschews technology in favour of craftsmanship and materiality. Every wall of the building contains components that can be opened, closed and manually manipulated, with the final result being a small yet flexible space that folds into its lakeside context.


    NEW HOUSE OVER 200 SQUARE METRES

    Fish Creek House (VIC) by Edition Office
    Fish-Creek-House-by-Edition-Office-Image-Ben-Hosking.jpg
    Photography by Ben Hosking 

    The jury described Fish Creek House by Edition Office as “an abstract object [that] sits embedded in the landscape – a long, highly textured wall wrapping three black timber pavilions and enclosing five courtyards”. The lengthy residence engages a simple material palette consisting of recycled bricks with mortar joining and black steel.  


    HOUSE ALTERATION AND ADDITION OVER 200 METRES

    Burleigh Street House (QLD) by ME
    Burleigh-Street-House-by-ME-Image-Christopher-Frederick-Jones.jpg
    Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones 

    The Burleigh Street House project by ME consisted of an alteration and addition to a 1970s bungalow on the Gold Coast. The upgraded three-bedroom home consists of three connected pavilions that link indoor and outdoor spaces. Burleigh Street House recently received the Elina Mottram Award for Residential Architecture – Houses (Alterations & Additions) at the 2017 Queensland Architecture Awards.


    HOUSE ALTERATION AND ADDITION UNDER 200 METRES

    Auchenflower House (QLD) by Vokes and Peters
    Auchenflower-House-by-Vokes-and-Peters-Image-Christopher-Frederick-Jones_2.jpg
    Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones 

    In the words of the Houses Awards jury, Auchenflower House “is as much about what hasn’t been done as what has been done to the original home”. The project responds to its past, and features an adaptation of the traditional battened back stair. The new additions also included large openings at the rear of the house and a new sitting area overlooking the backyard.


    A Pavilion Between Trees (VIC) by Branch Studio Architects
    A-Pavilion-Between-Trees-by-Branch-Studio-Architects-Image-Peter-Clarke.jpg
    Photography by Peter Clarke 

    A Pavilion Between Trees – the second project by Branch Studio Architects to be awarded at this year’s Houses Awards – is a rammed earth addition to an existing dwelling. The jury described the project as “a precious gem of a building that has clearly been conceived with a passion for the manipulation of raw materials and their impact on the surrounding environment”.


    APARTMENT OR UNIT

    Bobhubski (VIC) by March Studio
    Bobhubski-by-March-Studio-Image-Peter-Bennetts.jpg
    Photography by Peter Bennetts 

    Bobhubski by March Studio is a futuristic winter apartment inspired by “Japanese space capsule” architecture. The jury notes: “with a floor area of twenty-seven square metres, this lean project is an acknowledgement of the creativity of the Japanese Metabolism movement. More importantly, it is a contemporary example that develops a spatially rich infill, adaptive re-use and multiple housing project as paradigm.”


    HOUSE IN A HERITAGE CONTEXT

    Jac (NSW) by Panov Scott Architects
    Jac-by-Panov-Scott-Architects-Image-Brett-Boardman.jpg
    Photography by Brett Boardman 

    This project in the Sydney suburb of Dulwich Hill saw a rear addition to a 1907-built house. The architects decided on the name ‘Jac’ as a reference to the 116-year-old jacaranda tree that sits on the site, and which was incorporated into the new build. The jury says, “the key criterion of delivering an excellent design outcome within a heritage context is achieved many times over, from initial concept to completion”. 


    OUTDOOR

    Waterloo House (NSW) by Anthony Gill Architects with Budwise Garden Design
    Waterloo-House-by-Anthony-Gill-Architects-with-Budwise-Garden-Design-Image-Peter-Bennetts.jpg
    Photography by Peter Bennetts 

    The jury noted that “this project demonstrates minimal intervention for maximum outcome”. The existing structure of Waterloo House received a modest enhancement, which relied on the re-use of bricks salvaged from the demolition of the original rear wing. A network of courtyard gardens were created as a nature-based centrepiece for the project. 


    SUSTAINABILITY

    Fish Creek House (VIC) by Edition Office
    Fish-Creek-House-by-Edition-Office-Image-Ben-Hosking_2.jpg
    Photography by Ben Hosking 

    Fish Creek House by Edition Office responds to the harsh climatic conditions of Victoria’s Gippsland region, and addresses sustainability in a number of ways. This included the use of recycled bricks, and the breaking down of the plan into a series of pavilions. Externally, courtyards were created to maximise northern light into the home. The floor slab is hydronically heated via the kitchen’s wood-fired oven, and rainwater is collected and stored on site. 

    Garden Pavilion (VIC) by BLOXAS
    Garden-Pavilion-by-BLOXAS-Image-Peter-Bennetts.jpg
    Photography by Peter Bennetts 

    As the jury rightly stated, “the idea of ‘sustainability’ reaches beyond environmental responsiveness into the realm of social sustainability”. The concept for Garden Pavilion was conceived as a response to the client’s chronic sleeping disorder. The resulting design was considerate to both the social and isolated environments that are required of private quarters, creating a Garden Pavilion that affords the client a great degree of control over their surroundings.


    EMERGING ARCHITECTURE PRACTICE

    ME (QLD)
    Burleigh-Street-House-by-ME-Image-Christopher-Frederick-Jones_2.jpg
    Photography by Christopher Frederick Jones 

    The jury described ME as a “practice that is pushing boundaries and reconsidering the suburban status quo on the Gold Coast”. Established in 2013 by architect Matthew Eagle, the firm’s “growing suite of sensitively contextual residential projects embraces the coastal way of life and climate”. 

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