It’s that time of the year when we look at what was the most popular articles with our readers over the past 12 months.



Canberra ranked 5th healthiest city in the world


In a rather exciting way to ring in the new year three Australian cities were named among the 20 healthiest cities in the world by Canberra was the highest ranked Aussie city, rating 5th overall, while Adelaide and Brisbane came in at 11th and 19th respectively. 

In order to devise the rankings, analysed countries and cities on six fundamental factors that contribute to a healthy lifestyle: obesity levels, life expectancy, cost to be healthy, pollution levels, safety score and sunlight hours.

An excellent healthcare system that provides safe and affordable care to all residents, a sunny location that provides the population with Vitamin D and keeps them fit and strong, and a low crime rate that makes the city one of the safest, were the primary reasons for Canberra’s great performance in the study.




Melbourne’s skies to showcase world’s tallest vertical garden

southbank by beulah

Southbank by Beulah will soon become Australia’s largest tower once it reaches completion, but additionally, the $2 billion tower is also set to become the tallest vertical garden in the world.

Commissioned by Melbourne property developer Beulah and designed by UNStudio and Cox Architecture, the biophilic design endeavours to set a precedent for future skyscrapers both regionally and worldwide, for their developers to incorporate nature within their plans.

On track to become Australia’s tallest tower at 365 metres high, Southbank by Beulah’s external garden will cover a space of 5.5 kilometres, the building’s ripple-esque design allowing for increased plant coverage that is 1.5 times the size of Melbourne Botanic Gardens’ Tan running track.

As well as the vertical garden, the ground floor precinct that surrounds the tower will also feature extensive greenery. Additionally, pocket parks that emulate scaled-down neighbourhood parks will be a key feature throughout the building, connecting neighbourhoods vertically within the residential tower that will bring the total landscaped areas of the tower to 15,500 sqm.




Northcote Place at the forefront of modern sustainability

What began as an old abandoned 12,000sqm bus repair shed at Northcote, located in Wurundjeri Country in Victoria, now comprises 74 diverse and flexible townhouses that boast an 8 star NatHERS rating.

A benchmark in sustainable community living, Northcote Place combines indigenous flora and fauna with the modern, sustainable premises of modern architecture, complementing local regeneration initiatives in the process.

Northcote Place was born of a collaboration between Metro, Akas Landscape Architecture, SDC (Sustainable Development Consultants) and ClarkeHopkinsClarke Architects, a carbon-neutral practice. Want to know more about the inner workings of the residences? Click the link.




8 of the best granny flat designs

granny flat

As the demand for smaller self-contained homes grows, so too do the types of people wanting to move into them. In the month of April, we looked towards providing you with a selection of a number of granny flat ideas.

Also referred to as secondary residences that atypically sit at the back of a property, granny flats have experienced a massive surge in popularity in recent years, though these days they are just as likely to house complete strangers as grandparents or other close relatives.




Low carbon concrete to revolutionise construction industry

holcim ecopact

Well this is a little prophetic, isn’t it. Back in May, Holcim launched its low carbon concrete product range, titled ECOPact. Fast forward six months, and the product was named as the Winner of the Best of the Best category at the 2021 Sustainability Awards.

Designed to reduce the embodied carbon of buildings, infrastructure and homes by 30-60 percent, Holcim’s ECOPact range even includes the option to achieve carbon neutrality, with ECOPactZERO. 

For a structure like the Sydney Harbour Bridge, using ECOPact to achieve a 60% embodied carbon reduction is the equivalent of removing 14,700 cars off the road for one year, outlining its ability to significantly reduce emissions.




Australian digital pavilion for Biennale Architettura champions Indigenous design

inbetween biennale

'Inbetween' was the title for Australia’s digital pavilion at the 17th International Architecture Exhibition - La Biennale Di Venezia.

The theme for the 2021 pavilion celebrates Indigenous design and responds to the Biennale's theme of ‘how will we live together?’The pavilion has been curated by Creative Directors Tristan Wong and Jefa Greenaway, with Jordyn Milliken, Aaron Puls, Elizabeth Grant, and Ash Parsons. It has been designed to demonstrate the role that architecture plays in strengthening cultural connections and understanding between non-indigenous and first nations people, with a series of works that 'demonstrate the protection, revival, and celebration of Indigenous culture'.

The Pavilion Curators say in a collective statement that the digital presentation is designed to inform the wider world about Indigenous culture, and how we might go about adopting certain customs and ideals of Aboriginal peoples within our society.




House design app: 10 best home design apps

As digital information consumption takes up more than 60% of our hours– shortening our attention spans and enabling us to build better, faster and more efficiently, (whether it be houses or an inventory of knowledge) – it is of little to no surprise that there are now countless apps to enable a ‘DIY’ approach to house design or its interior.

‘Power to the people’ (or power to Apple and its co-dependants) – house design apps are ‘applications’, usually on an iPhone or Android that allow you to foresee how your house will look after renovations, an interior-design rejig or simply, a new paint job.

Some apps are surprisingly in-depth, allowing you to take photos of each room to upload and move furniture around to visualise your next interior makeover.

Others allow you to shop from their library for interior ideas and some, offer detailed floorplans and 3D renderings.

Whether they’re a gateway for productivity or fantasia, the apps are only as useful as the user, so it’s always helpful to ask yourself a few questions first and foremost: Architecture or interior design? Inspiration or renovation? House plan or floorplan?

The next step to choosing the most helpful app, is being honest with yourself about how much you’re willing to pay for an app, and whether it’s all-in-all worth it.




The biggest house in Australia: where are our largest mansions?

The biggest house in Australia is Fairwater, a two-storey mansion in the harbour-side Sydney suburb of Point Piper. Built in 1882, the heritage house features period finishes, stained glass windows, painted ceilings, decorative rich mosaic floors, door leafs and door furniture, panelled walls, and chimney pieces.

Owned by the Fairfax family for over a century, this heritage home sits on a sprawling 1.12ha estate. In 2018, it was sold for $AUD100 million to Atlassian co-founder and tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes.

Considered the most expensive home in Australia at the time of its sale, the massive Point Piper mansion Fairwater was designed by the leading architect of the time, John Horbury Hunt. Fairwater is the largest privately owned property on the harbour with the waterfront estate extending from New South Head Road to Seven Shillings Beach.




300-year-old home restored and turned into architecture studio

Looking for new office space? Well, look no further as Iranian architectural firm Polsheer Architects have restored an over 300-year-old home in the Isfahan province of central Iran and transformed it into their headquarters.

Reflecting the Isfahani style of traditional Persian architecture, which emerged during the Safavid dynasty period in the 16th century, the house successfully integrates three different architectural traditions spanning three eras in Iranian history. The southern wing is the oldest, dating back to more than 300 years while the northern wing is from the Zand era of 250 years ago, and the eastern wing has elements from the Qajar era, about 150-200 years ago, when the house served as the British General Consulate in Isfahan.

After purchasing the house in 1998, Polsheer Architects embarked on a comprehensive restoration and conversion project, which was completed in 2001.

The restored building features a small courtyard with a pool, surrounded by a series of rooms arranged on two levels. Double-height vaulted ceilings, sculptural walls with stucco work, decorative art and magnificent paintings, multi-coloured windows, elegant timber doors and fretwork windows have been retained and restored by the architects. The Isfahani architectural style, which can be seen in several grand palaces and mosques from the period, informs the spatial and structural composition of the building.

Awarded a UNESCO prize in 2002, the Polsheer House restoration has successfully preserved an architectural heritage building while introducing new features that allow it to function as a modern office.




USYD Museum set to reopen doors next Monday

The University of Sydney is set to re-open its Chau Chak Wing Museum on 18 October, with Sarah Goffman’s new Applied Arts exhibition the main attraction for new and returning visitors.

The exhibition sees Goffman transform materials, often recycled, into works inspired by the museum’s extensive antiquities, art and ethnography collections. They include a shard of Roman glass reimagined into a bowl, a sculptural rendering of a 20th century abstract portrait and a recreation of one of the Museum's display cabinets. 

The reopening provides visitors with a final opportunity to enjoy the scale and splendour of Gululu dhuwala djalkiri: welcome to the Yolŋu foundations, an exhibition of the University’s extensive eastern Arnhem Land art collection in the museum’s largest gallery space.

The museum opened its doors in November 2020, bringing together the university’s Nicholson, Macleay and University Art collections in order for them to be kept under one roof. The Nicholson Collection is the largest collection of antiquities in the southern hemisphere. 

The Macleay Collections include some of Australia’s most significant natural history objects. The University Art Collection comprises more than 8,000 historical and contemporary works spanning thousands of years.





Announcing the 2021 Sustainability Awards Winners

It has been said that the Architecture & Design Sustainability Awards, one of the longest running programmes of critical recognition for the architecture, design and construction industries, recognise all-round excellence in sustainable construction, including the overall design and delivery of buildings, public infrastructure and civil engineering projects.

But these awards are much more than that.

The Architecture & Design Sustainability Awards are not only given to projects that demonstrate an immediate high level of sustainable architecture or design, but also those that can show long-term sustainability, are accessible to all users and have made a positive cultural, social or economic contribution to the local community.

But these awards are not easy to win.

That’s because very few projects in Australia can easily be labelled as having these criteria, the winners here have shown that they have steeped far and beyond what we normally see in the built environment.

As the oldest built environment sustainability awards in the country, it really does fill me with pride that this year, despite all that was going on with the pandemic, these awards provided 103 entrants, 68 finalists and 15 overall winners – at a level of quality of have yet to see in our now 15-year programme.



Lego likeness delivers iDesign UOW’s first Sustainable Homes Challenge crown

The inaugural winner of the University of Wollongong’s Sustainable Homes Challenge has been announced, with iDesign’s Lego House project taking out the competition.

A nationwide competition, the Sustainable Homes Challenge asks multidisciplinary teams to design a sustainable, affordable and liveable home from waste-derived building products.

25 students currently studying undergraduate and master’s degrees from six universities completed the challenge. Participants were placed into teams and challenged, over five months, to create a design proposal for the construction of a home that included innovative components made from available waste-derived materials.

The iDesign team, comprising Georgia O-Neill, Nicole Ellingburg, Evie Parrish-Gibbons and Parimal Salunkhe, were victorious with their Lego House submission. 

Deriving its name from the lego-like bricks that click together similarly to the interlocking plastic bricks. It features maximised access to natural light and ventilation, outdoor living spaces in the front and rear of the property, interactive frontage to help build connections with the community and large living spaces on both floors. It comprises three water closets, with two being separate to general bathrooms, as well as an inline kitchen.

The teams were brought together virtually for the final week of the challenge.