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Heat stroke, wasp bites, and homes with a whole lot of soul

Our very own editor at Indesign, Jan Henderson, has co-authored a book with photographer Dianna Snape. It saw them traverse the Australian continent – in the midst of the pandemic no less – to get to the heart of (architectural) matters. Indesignlive chats with the two authors.

Heat stroke, wasp bites, and homes with a whole lot of soul

Glebe House by Chenchow Little Architects, photography by Dianna Snape.

What is the driving concept behind the book?

Jan Henderson and Dianna Snape: The concept of Architecture at the Heart of the Home was to explore, through architecture, how people define what home is.

There is always a place that is the essence, or the very heart of a home, whether that is a particular room, an architectural feature, a view, the land on which it sits or something else entirely.

Through the work of Australia’s emerging and most renowned architects, we had the opportunity to explore this place. And capture how each resident’s life was influenced by their particular home and its architecture.

Pandanus House by Sparks Architects, photography by Dianna Snape.

How did the narratives for each project come together?

With spectacular architecture, extraordinary settings and the different way that each resident lived in and used their home. What became apparent was that each home was unique and individual and this obviously informed the description.

I suppose the most important aspect was to show that great architecture comes in many forms, and when a home is crafted to a brief and client, not one home will be the same.

Limestone House by John Wardle Architects, photography by Dianna Snape.

Tell us about your collaboration?

The joy of producing this book was that two friends had the opportunity to work together, each with their own expertise and defined responsibilities that sometimes overlapped. But a single shared vision.

We have known each other for more than a decade, worked together in the architecture and design industry and formed a great friendship over that time.

The seed was sown to create a book together some years ago. In 2019 when we had distilled the theme as the architectural ‘heart’ of a home, we decided to power ahead.

We compiled a list of the best established and emerging architects that we admire. Then we started the process of contacting each to see if there might be a project that would encapsulate the idea of our book.

Peninsula House by Carr, photography by Dianna Snape. 

What were some of the challenges or unexpected curveballs?

Challenges!! Well, who would have ever thought that in early 2020 life as we know it would be changed forever? Before the pandemic really took hold we had already travelled far and wide and had completed photography on half of the projects.

Things became more challenging as COVID-19 took hold and living in Melbourne, we also experienced multiple lockdowns.

The plans we had made for 2020 were changed many times, flights and hire cars rebooked and arrangements for visits moved and cancelled then changed again.

Fortunately, somehow in between lockdowns, we were able to travel to complete the shoots with the last one in Tasmania in January 2021.

There were many times over the past year we wondered if we would complete our book but had to keep pushing through…

It was difficult going to the airport and getting on a plane for the first time after lockdown. And strange wearing a face mask with lots of hand sanitiser in our bags and feeling apprehensive at the thought of travelling again. It was a completely changed experience for both of us. Especially as we had both travelled the globe constantly before COVID-19.

There were also the other natural happenings such as bush fires, smoke haze, a mini cyclone and heatwaves. But we were the lucky ones, meeting the wonderful architects and having the chance to get to know their incredible clients.

It’s been a ride that’s fair to say!

Limestone House by John Wardle Architects, photography by Dianna Snape.

Can you speak to the architectural practices and some of the projects featured?

John Wardle and Rachel Nolan and Patrick Kennedy were the first to commit to our idea. We were thrilled as these architects are at the absolute pinnacle of their careers. And we also loved the work of younger practices such as Myers Ellyett and DREAMER. It was fortunate we were able to showcase their projects as well.

There was no conscious thought of a particular style of home to be included. Just the idea of excellent architects and their work. As it transpired, every project is different and individual but speaks volumes of the architect who has created it.

First and foremost, the home was to be a new or recently completed project and had to have that defining feature, a heart.

The more we talked with architects, and were presented with potential projects, we recognised that hearts come in a multitude of shapes and sizes, not solely a kitchen, now the bi-word for the heart of a home.

We also wanted to include homes that spanned our continent. Our greatest regret is that we didn’t have the capacity to travel to the Northern Territory in the allocated time before we handed the book to our publisher. However, each home from the states, towns and countryside presented is unique and a representation of the landscape in which it resides.

Pine Flat Lodge by Room 11, photography by Dianna Snape.

Can you share some of the experiences or anecdotes from visiting and photographing these beautiful homes? Is there anything the reader might not pick up from the book?

Someone must have been looking after us when it came to the weather for our shoots. We managed to dodge bushfires and severe weather incidents. We crammed in photographs of every angle of a house before the sunset or in just hours. And we fought through the long days, heat stroke and even wasp bites!

Following a very long day on a shoot, having a nice meal, a glass of wine, and talking about homes, architecture and the meaning of life, added that special something to the whole experience!

Elwood House by AM Architecture, photography by Dianna Snape.

Architecture at the Heart of the Home is available to order now.

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