A Brisbane home comprising a trio of shadecloth wrapped pavilions and intersecting courtyards has taken out the People’s Choice Award, a part of the Australian Institute of Architects’ (AIA) 2014 National Architecture Awards.

Oxlade Drive House by James Russell Architect was selected by more than 4,000 voters from the 13 houses shortlisted in the National Awards’ Residential Architecture categories and will now look forward to the jury decided awards to be announced 6 November.


Oxlade Drive House is situated on the southern tip of the flood zoned New Farm, Brisbane and is stilt elevated above the Queensland 100 year flood levels.

The house emulates an Asian longhouse and is configured as a series of two storey Ironbark-clad pavilions that run down the depth of the block, each separated by a courtyard containing landscape, gathering spaces or a pool.

Russell’s response to the sites’ tropical biosphere, as well as the client’s predilection for outdoor living, was the conception of an encasing shadecloth from NetPro Canopies that wraps 70 per cent of the building’s form, and provides protection from sun, insects and neighbouring unit blocks.

According to the architects, the building’s elongated layout—punctured only by the series of courtyards—benefits plenty of summer breeze and winter sun, and requires no air-conditioning.

Its inhabitant’s thermal comfort is also aided by Anticon 100HP insulation blankets that line the walls, ceilings and floors and give an R Value of 2.5.

A key design element of the project is its intersecting courtyards which break up the robust monolithic pavilions. When combined with the encasing shadecloth, this layout benefits the clients’ desire to live an insect- free outdoor lifestyle.

The courtyards are landscaped with native plants to South East Queensland (one camphor laurel tree is a notable exclusion) and require little to no irrigation.

In awarding Oxlade Drive House at the Queensland Architecture Awards earlier in the year, the state jury noted :

“[It is] an intelligent, appropriate reinterpretation of the possibilities of inner city living,” they said.

“A robust and unexpected series of devices and palette of materials engage the senses and heighten the connection between the inside and out.

“A provocative, poetic but practical outcome, testament to James's discourse of living in the sub-tropics.”

Photography: Toby Scott.