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ArchiTeam’s Little Architectural Heroes

Australia is full of small architecture practices doing outstanding work within tight constraints – ArchiTeam has just announced its top pick projects for 2016.

  • The Kite - Architecture Architecture

  • Acute House - OOF! Architecture

  • Black House - Krisna Cheung

  • Fish Creek House - Edition Office

  • Cambridge Street - Edition Office

  • Tambo Fire Engine Shed - Cloud Dwellers



BY Alex Kwak

November 18th, 2016


There are some big things happening in small studios across the country. Australia excels at small practice architecture, focusing on producing fantastic work on a small scale with often-limited resources.

“The way Australians live and work is shifting all across the country,” says ArchiTeam Co-operative Director, Zoë Geyer. “Small architecture practices are generally more adaptable and freethinking, making them the ideal candidates to deal with difficult sites and unusual briefs. Many of our members consciously remain small, in order to do more of this challenging and rewarding work.”

The organisation’s awards this year highlighted a number of small practices that have developed thoughtful, powerful architecture either with small budgets, complex sites, or quirky briefs.

Fish Creek, by the newly formed Edition Office—with Aaron Roberts and Kim Bridgland, previously of Room11 Architects, at the helm—took out the gong for New Residential work. The home is a response to its landscape, acting as a bunker against strong winds. The rough-textured brick walls protect the internal pavilions from the elements and the nearby road. Utilising a simple palette of materials, the architects used recycled bricks and thickly troweled mortar to create a unique brickwork effect.

Meanwhile, OOF! Architecture’s Acute House—award for Residential Alterations and Additions—has to have one of the most challenging sites in Australia. The four-storey, three-bedroom, two-bathroom home sits on a 48m2 triangular site in Albert Park. The project transformed the existing two-up/two-down ‘renovator’s nightmare’ into a compact 21st century family home. OOF! Architecture—a studio perhaps best known for the iconic ‘Hello House’—demonstrates the tenacity of smaller architects in bringing seemingly impossible ideas to life.

And when the Tambo Shire Council in Central Western Queensland wanted a standout feature for their main street, architects Cloud Dwellers stepped up to the plate. The result is the Tambo Fire Engine Shed, which took out both the Community and Sustainability award. “For small remote towns to survive and prosper, they need to offer an environment that is inviting to both visitors and locals, and capitalise on the positive and unique aspects of the setting,” explains Cloud Dwellers. “The project demonstrates that low-cost projects are still worthy of a proper design process by virtue of the positive sustainability outcomes that can be achieved.”

Melbourne-base studio, Thomas Winwood Architecture has a wide and varied skills base, working within residential architecture and exhibition design, and employing materials research and BIM to develop advanced solutions for a range of briefs. TWA took out the award for Unbuilt work for its finalist entry into the NGV Summer Pavilion, The Water Room.

In another small-scale project from another small studio, the Commercial award-winning Studio Garage by Krisna Cheung again demonstrates a tight site, tight budget and creative solutions. To avoid the building becoming a ‘monolithic’ home studio at the bottom of the garden, the architects used a semi-transparent ‘skin’ on the façade. “The client wanted something that blended in. We promised something interesting. The result: something interesting that blends in, a beautiful sculptural studio garage that enhances, and is enhanced by, its surrounding context.”

With the support of organisations such as ArchiTeam and the Australian Institute of Architects, small Australian practices are thriving, and are delivering award-winning, high-quality and internationally recognised architecture.


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