Karen McCartney will be showcasing vignettes of local and international residential architecture and interiors at the Museum of Sydney, 29 August to 29 November 2015.

The exhibition, ‘Superhouse: architecture and interiors beyond the everyday’, will feature some of the world’s most extraordinary homes and interesting living spaces with breath-taking photography by Richard Powers.

Exhibition curator McCartney explains that the exhibition demonstrates how architectural experimentation and daring can challenge notions of how one should live. A superhouse delivers a 360-degree completeness of form with its exterior and interior having seamless execution. She adds that this quality comes from the perfection of its natural setting, a remarkable use of materials, an exceptional level of craft, ground-breaking innovation or a use of space that lifts the spirit.

Content for the exhibition is drawn from McCartney’s latest publication of the same name and enhanced by unique local examples. Vivid photography, feature furniture and interior decoration bring these houses to life, supported by filmed interviews with some of the architects who designed the homes as well as thought-provoking interviews with influencers and opinion-makers exploring the notion of what makes a house ‘super’.

The Superhouse exhibition features fifteen extraordinary houses across five themes: Re-make, Finding Form, Small Spaces, Roof Tops & Skylines and The Land. These exhibits include Monza Loft (Lissoni Associati, 2009) in Italy and Skylight House (Chenchow Little, 2013) in Balmain, Sydney, both representing the reinvention of existing spaces, as well as The Trunk House (Paul Morgan Architects, 2011) in Victoria and The Goulding Summerhouse (Scott Tallon Walker Architects, 1971-73) in Ireland, houses that show how small, intimate spaces can exert an architectural power all of their own.

Goulding Summerhouse by Scott Tallon Walker. Image source: STW Architects.

Trunk House by Paul Morgan Architects. Photography by Peter Bennetts.

Some examples reveal an extraordinary connection to the landscape on which they sit, such as the award-winning House in Country (Virginia Kerridge, 2010) in the NSW Hunter Valley or The Pierre (Olson Kundig Architects, 2013) in Seattle, a house built into a rocky outcrop. Exhibits such as the Flinders House (Wood Marsh Architecture, 2012) in Victoria and Masetti House (Paulo Mendes da Rocha, 1969) in Brazil showcase a completeness of form, where the exterior and interior are equally resolved.

The Pierre by Olson Kundig Architects. Photography by Benjamin Benschneider/Courtesy Olson Kundig Architects.

Flinders House by Wood/Marsh Architecture. Photography by Jean Luc Laloux

To provide visitors an immersive experience, the exhibition showcases three inspiring houses through a selection of materials and furnishings: Almere House (Benthem Crouwel Architeken, 1982-1984) in The Netherlands; Astley Castle (Witherford Watson Mann, 2013) in Warwickshire, England; and the Solo House (Pezo von Ellrichshausen, 2009-2012) in Spain.

Challenging all notions of a superhouse, Almere House was conceived as an experiment in impermanence with a prefab structure but became a long term residence for the architect Jan Benthem and his family. Astley Castle was transformed from a ruin dating back to the 12th century with a contemporary interior and reimagined in a way that retains its history without mimicking its original form. The Solo House rethinks the very nature of what a house can be by positioning the living space on a series of verandahs around the edge of the building with a swimming pool at its centre.

Executive Director of Sydney Living Museums, Mark Goggin commented that they are thrilled to be working again with McCartney following the success of the Iconic Australian Houses exhibition in 2014. He added that visitors to the exhibition will be truly inspired by Karen’s selections of some of the most extraordinary houses from around the world, revealing ground-breaking architecture and beautiful living spaces.

McCartney will also curate a series of talks during the Superhouse exhibition featuring a range of guest speakers including architects Hannah Tribe, James Stockwell, Virginia Kerridge and Paul Morgan, Alec Tzannes, Dean, Faculty of the Built Environment at UNSW, and social researcher Dr Rebecca Huntley.

More information about ‘Superhouse: architecture and interiors beyond the everyday’ can be accessed on the Sydney Living Museums website.