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Houses Awards 2015

A rainforest retreat; engaging with surroundings using recycled concrete; challenging the notions of what outdoor spaces can be and more – it can only be the winners this year’s Houses Awards.

Houses Awards 2015


August 7th, 2015

The annual celebration of the best in Australia’s residential design has again seen excellence awarded in nine categories. The winning projects in 2015 are a testament to the impressive work being produced across Australia, with each winner providing a unique insight into contemporary residential design.

The Planchonella House by Jesse Bennett Architect was named ‘Australian House of the Year’.


On this project, the Jury said, “Living in Planchonella House would be a true delight. Immersed in a luscious rainforest in Far North Queensland, the dwelling embraces its tropical climate and is handcrafted at every scale – from the graceful curves of the concrete to the detail of the timber window framing and inbuilt joinery. The ideas expressed in the design of this house are pure and whimsical in a way that works. Raw and honest, the house uses passive, low-tech sustainability strategies in response to prevailing climatic conditions and allows occupants to alter their environment according to how they are using the space. This is a building that will get better with time – as it ages, it will recede back into the landscape and appear as a ruin in the jungle.”

New House under 200 m2 of the year went to the Sawmill House by Archier Studio


“Much of the delight in the Sawmill House lies in the conjunction of rawness and finesse,” the Jury reported “Clearly a labour of love, the design seems improvised according to the methods, skills and materials found on site and within its locale. Most interesting is the recycled concrete blocks that form the primary walls. The screen bestows a beautiful quality of light and richness to the interior, which is complemented by brass-clad joinery and a formply ceiling. This is a welcoming space.”

House of the Year Planchonella House also took him the New House over 200 m2 for 2015, with the Jury remarking, “For too long, subtropical architecture in Australia has been branded with a timber and tin vernacular.”


“Planchonella House rethinks the subtropical condition. The house is not just an object in the landscape – the building and landscape work together to enclose and expand space in plan and section. The result is a materially raw building robust and ready to be engulfed by the jungle.”

Queensland’s West End Cottage by Vokes and Peters Pty Ltd with Owen and Vokes and Peters took home the House Alteration & Addition under 200 m2 for the year.

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On the house, the Jury says “When old workers’ cottages are renovated, it is typical for the existing rooms to be removed for the creation of an open plan. But at West End Cottage, the new work preserves and extends the pattern of rooms in respect of the existing plan. A raised courtyard delivers sun into the centre of the plan; it solves the dilemma of a house on stumps – mitigating the level change and connecting the interior to the larger garden beyond.”

As for House Alteration & Addition over 200 m2, Andy Maynard Architects’ Tower House took home the prize, with the panel judging it as a “Reinterpretation of a typical suburban house block as a village. The project involves the renovation and extension of a humble weatherboard cottage to accommodate a family of four.”

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“Rather than adding a large, dominating addition to the rear of the existing house, the architects have added a playful series of gabled volumes that reference the original building form along the boundaries of the site. The design strategy has resulted in a delightful and unexpected series of adaptable internal and external spaces of varying scale and character.”

In the Apartment or Unit category, Brad Swartz’s Darlinghurst Apartment was the worthy recipient on the night

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“The Darlinghurst Apartment reconfigures a twenty-seven-square-metre inner-city studio apartment into a fully functional home for a couple,” the Jury says of the space “The design cleverly incorporates a small bedroom, a laundry and ample storage into the incredibly tight floor space. Each element of the design has been carefully considered to maximize storage and functionality. This project is an excellent example of what a thoughtful designer can achieve within a very small space and with a very tight budget.”

‘Cut Paw Paw’ by Andrew Maynard Architects took out the award in the Outdoor category on the night, which the Judges cited as “challenging the typical notions of how we might use our outdoor spaces in an inventive and playful way”

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“Deliberately flirting with notions of the incomplete and the partially demolished, this project has a dynamism that lets the user take advantage of the best the climate offers, while also offering shelter when it needs to. Cut Paw Paw is an intriguing and discerning surmise at what our outdoor spaces can be.”

In the Sustainability segment, QV8 by Victoria’s Breathe Architecture was the winner on the night, with the Jury citing “Housing people, not cars is the mantra for the QV8 apartment development, found within the base of a thirty-seven storey tower in Melbourne’s QV Block. The former car park is now home to eight households.”

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“The existing structure and typology of the car park, characterised by sheer walls and a low floor-to-floor height, has been transformed into a series of long and generous apartments. This offers real lessons in sustainable solutions for our cities. May this be the first of many such conversions.”

Finally, the Emerging Architecture Practice award was given to Archier Studio – their second award of the night “Archier Studio’s idea of leveraging latent assets to drive a project and the architects’ willingness to get hands-on, whether on site or in the manufacturing of smaller-scale objects, gives the studio’s work a truly authentic vigour,” the Jury said of the winners “The splicing together of ideas of different scales, from the harnessing of massive concrete blocks to designing delicate metal fabrications to fit the hand, show the ability of a practice to create compelling spatial outcomes. Archier Studio’s ability to make the most of this position makes the practice a worthy winner of the inaugural Emerging Architecture Practice award.”


Congratulations to all Houses Awards winners!

Houses Awards

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