Australian Style

Australian Style

Last Updated: 04 Jan 2016
Jessica Rule

This year’s industry awards proved why homes down under have unparalleled appeal.


The owners of this cottage in beachside Clovelly, NSW, had lived on the site for several years before and so had an intimate familiarity with the advantages and disadvantages of living in this wonderful but exposed spot. Rolf Ockert Design harnessed the southern ocean view with a northern sun aspect, building into
a steep site that falls sharply to the Pacific. The roof shape of the resulting house allows northern light in while maintaining sight lines for other residents in the street. An open void in the section allows natural light and air to penetrate deep into the home. The material palette ensures that the house will be maintenance-free for many years to come, while still maintaining a quality and bespoke result.
This home was in the running for the NSW 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Rolf Ockert Design,


This project challenged the typical design response of adding a single living and kitchen module to the rear of an existing Victorian house in Melbourne. Instead, the choice was made to insert two courtyards from which these living and cooking zones could spill forth. The result is a series of fluid and light spaces which, in contrast to the existing Victorian spaces to the front of the dwelling, provide enclosure and a sense of seclusion. The new living areas to the rear promote openness and interaction in a restrained material palette of white, with pale timber insertions. This provides a neutral backdrop for the family's collection of art, books and objects, while enhancing the visual connection between the interior spaces with the courtyard garden adjacent. This home received a design commendation on the 2015 Residential Design Shortlist for the Australian Interior Design Awards, Studiofour,


This highly personalised apartment in Sydney's well-heeled waterfront suburb of
Darling Point saw Sarah Davison Interior Design create a pied-a-terre for an urbane businessman. She chose a rich palette of warm timbers, classic tan leather, and technicolour art, pairing them with classically styled 1960s furnishings. The result is an interior that is bold, inspiring and the epitome of modern luxury. This home was on the 2015 Residential Decoration Shortlist for the Australian Interior Design Awards, Sarah Davison Interior Design,


Tasked with transforming a beachside Victorian terrace into a home befitting a young couple with small children, Arent&Pyke and Jason Sullivan teamed up to put their magic touch on the spaces. Renovating and recontextualising the terrace saw the design team utilise decorative elements to activate the formal areas, working with an existing art collection. The brief required that the spaces evoke different moods while still being flexible to the needs of a young family. The designers ensured that each of the zones reflected their purpose, from the composed inky solemnity of the intimate formal areas to the sun-bleached lightness of the casual family spaces. This home received a 2015 Residential Decoration Commendation in the Australian Interior Design Awards,, and was a Belle Coco Republic Interior Design Awards 2015 Finalist. Arent&Pyke and Jason Sullivan,


This modern concrete home in Glen Osmond, in the South Australian foothills, offers panoramic views of Adelaide. The three-storey abode, designed
by Architects Ink, is both raw and refined, inspired by Japanese architect Tadao Ando. The design was tailored to the topography of the site, constructed from large concrete slabs and an abundance of glass to make the most of the natural light. It follows the steep contours of the land, unfolding over a U-shaped floorplan evolved around an existing plane tree in the central courtyard. The second level features an open-plan living space that connects seamlessly to an alfresco entertainment area. The architects successfully balanced what would normally be considered a harsh industrial component with natural light and warm materials to create a series of homely spaces that cater to family life. This home won a Residential Architecture prize in the South Australian 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Architects Ink,


Charles Wright Architects' clients required a safe and secure home with absolute privacy in their Port Douglas retreat. This set a significant design challenge for the team, which created the house akin to a shell or outdoor auditorium. Once inside, the house is conceived as a large living room, which stretches out to the horizon
over the sea. Designed to maximise the view, the home was conceived as a cantilevered living platform, generated by both the site's steep topography and the constraints and limitations of the local planning-scheme requirements. The project represents a successful mediation of opposing priorities between public and private places, while pioneering a new contemporary tropical housing prototype. This home was shortlisted for the national 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Charles Wright Architects,


Innovative and cutting-edge, Allen Jack + Cottier designed this 'man cave'
in Surry Hills, NSW, as a bespoke retreat for the property owners. It was their
client's dream to convert such a place to his own private residence, creating an internal realm suited to his interests in music, entertaining and visiting friends. The building started life as a food-manufacturing factory in the early
1900s, and the project involved the conversion of the existing two-level, 1060sqm warehouse. Sections of the building were radically altered to introduce light and spatially connect the two levels, incorporating four bedrooms, living space, a large commercial-quality kitchen, music room, swimming pool and terrace. The most significant insertion in the warehouse is the sleeping pod on the first floor. This is the owner's private suite that sits as a piece of sculpture in the main living space. The re-imagination has allowed an old warehouse to create new zones without diminishing the sense of space and authenticity of the warehouse. This home was shortlisted in the 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Allen Jack + Cottier,


Matt Gibson Architecture + Design created this Hamptons-style home to forge a direct relationship between inside and outside. The home comprises two longitudinal zones of space located to the north and south of an east-west spine – living zone to the north and sleeping zone to the south. The client – a builder and specialist in masonry – was keen to utilise a concrete-and-stone palette externally. These materials, along with a generous use of naturally finished timber, became the determining elements of both the architecture and the interior.
On the ground level, an essentially opaque screen runs from boundary to boundary, aiding privacy, with a clearly designated steel 'shrouded' entry. The house is designed to reveal a sequence of spaces combining the compact and the expansive. The lofty and airy living spaces are reminiscent of mid-century modernist material and compositional qualities, in particular Brazilian modernism. The more intimate rooms meet the client's need for honest, practical and comfort-driven interiors. The home was designed specifically as a beautiful backdrop to the family's lifestyle, which includes a blend of art and landscape.
This won Best Residential Design in the Belle Coco Republic Interior Design Awards 2015, Matt Gibson Architecture + Design,


Robson Rak Architects rescued this double-fronted Victorian building, located in a leafy residential street of Melbourne, by restoring the facade
and giving a new dimension to the rear of the building. The tired residence was given a complete re-design with a new addition, and was modernised with fully automated technology that was disguised with a warm and textural palette. A timber ribbon of floor and wall travels through the house, creating an harmonious, seamless transition from old to new. These are cleverly mirrored using the same timber on the walls throughout the living room and kitchen space. The streamlined kitchen was effectively designed with natural textures, evoking the warmth of the family atmosphere. Floor-to-ceiling bi-fold doors open up to the outdoor living space, creating an expansive open-plan living, dining and kitchen area. The Malvern House is a superbly designed home that celebrates the original site and traditional building while welcoming an innovative yet earthy contemporary family home. This home was on the 2015 Residential Design Shortlist for the Australian Interior Design Awards,
Robson Rak Architects,


The brief for this family home on a sloping site near Ballarat in rural Victoria required the framing of south-facing views while maximising northern light. Michael Moloney of Moloney Architects created living spaces on the ground floor to engage directly with the outdoor and landscape spaces. Upstairs bedrooms have views into the surrounding tree canopies. The cantilevered form sets up a dramatic view over Ballarat, and is oriented east-west to provide every room with access to light from the north. The home is comprised of naturally fire-resistant spotted gum cladding, insulated in-situ concrete panels, and split-face concrete block to suit the site's BAL29 bushfire rating. The cladding will be left to weather, reflecting the greys of the surrounding bush in the appealing way only timber can.
This home was the winner of the 2015 National Rising Star Design Award at the Australian Timber Design Awards, Moloney Architects,


The existing house was a late colonial 'Queenslander' on an inner-city Brisbane lot when Tim Bennetton Architects took on its redesign. The team sought to create a new high-set addition at the rear with a simple verandah to link it to the old house. This created an opportunity for a northeast-facing swimming-pool courtyard at the lower level, and also provides a view, light and breezes to the upper level. The finishes are simple with the occasional flourish: the original roofs that opened to ventilate the pavilion were scuppered midway through the design process to align the budget with the brief. The site-appropriate home creates an aesthetic solution for Queensland's trying weather conditions.
This home was in the running for a QLD 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Tim Bennetton Architects,


A cubby house for grown-ups, the addition to this Queensland home is named the Living Room, a standalone structure created to allow its owners to enjoy indoor/outdoor living. Shrouded in plants, it is designed to be low maintenance, recyclable, and to blend with the landscape, thanks to a green roof covered in native grasses. Hard industrial materials take on a soft organic form, with natural colours that gain a patina with age, and passive heating and cooling in play. Recycled materials, including hardwood, copper, pallets, plumbing fixtures, concrete, toilet cisterns and more make the addition a sustainable wonder. Spread over two levels, with timber slatted, wrap-around bench seats and a mini lounge room complete with mounted plasma, the Living Room works as both a place to be enjoyed by the property's entire family or as a private garden retreat. One end of the dwelling is constantly open to catch a breeze, with the other able to be closed if it turns fresh, using a small kitchenette and a fire-pit to keep warm.
This home was shortlisted in the 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Aardvarc,


Newly created internal courtyards, timber screens and soft landscaping allow the clients of Schulberg Demkiw Architects to fully enjoy their Melbourne home. The idea was to offer them privacy from their neighbours without compromising on the light, spaciousness and comfort that a young family requires of a home. The abode's three levels are connected via light wells and garden aspects, allowing the outside in and light to fill every space, creating a calm, serene atmosphere perfect for withdrawing or work. This home won the Excellence in the Use of Timber Products – Timber Windows and Doors at the Australian Timber Design Awards, Schulberg Demkiw Architects,


The clients approached Rolf Ockert Design to create the house of their dreams on a site perched high over the Pacific. The home was to make them feel like they were on a holiday every day, but while the view was fantastic the site was very small and suffocated by overbearing neighbouring dwellings. Rolf Ockert Design created a home that feels generous and at one with the ocean and the sky, thanks to a high living-room ceiling and the pursuit of views of ocean and sky wherever possible. The house opens itself up completely to the east to absorb stunning water views and capture ocean breezes to cool down the house throughout the year. These are easily regulated by ventilation options, from sliding doors to operable louvres. A rich but reduced palette of strong, earthy materials – from concrete to timber flooring and ceilings, rust-metal finishes and thick, textured renders – contrasts with the fine detailing of the interior, and anchors the residence against the airy, light aspect created by the opening to the views.
This home was in the running for the NSW 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Rolf Ockert Design,


Tzannes Associates designed this new build on a compact urban site, creating a relaxed yet rich garden landscape of interconnected indoor and outdoor rooms. The new home maximises northern light by hugging the bent southern boundary, split into two distinct wings. These formal and informal areas divide at the kitchen, while a dialogue is established between the two wings. The large double-height entertaining or public space offers a fireplace, dining and seating areas. The more intimate private spaces include a family room, upstairs bedrooms and a study/nanny's zone or grandmother's apartment with its own bathroom downstairs. Gardens surround the building, which is open on all sides with many views through the linking rooms. The character of the house in a garden is immediately apparent through its soft presentation to the street, with the only built structures being the entry gate and garage, and the gardens extending to the footpath edge. This home was commended in the NSW 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Tzannes Associates,


Jackson Clements Burrows took an existing inner city Melbourne dwelling, in a state of disrepair, and reconfigured in into a head-turner. The ground-floor level has been extended from the rear of the existing dwelling, accommodating kids' bedroom areas and the primary living zones. The first floor is home to the master bedroom, ensuite and a small study. A mid-level garden space is accessible from the ground-floor courtyard and deck, while off-street car-parking and rumpus areas are located below in a semi-basement level. The new element of the dwelling has been clad in vertical timber boards, with the south elevation reading as a very contemporary sculptural form that challenges the traditional streetscape condition and elevates the existing heritage fabric. As a family dwelling, the building provides an excellent opportunity for contemporary and heritage architecture to co-exist successfully. This home was in the running for a VIC 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Jackson Clements Burrows,


MCK Architects successfully turned a run-down Sydney warehouse into a young couple's contemporary new home. The owners sought a large space to entertain in, with capacity for an interchanging collection of large art pieces. The principle was to breathe new life into the space, retaining and rebuilding it, without losing the spatial experience of the large warehouse. A formal living zone, entertaining areas and workspace/studio are at ground level, while it is kept informal above with a kitchen, dining room and lounge. Sleep areas are in the new cement sheet-clad roof form, with an outdoor synthetic-turfed terrace. The oversized entry door allows for a sculpture piece in the future. A triple-height light void provides a dramatic entry, while concrete forms cross and spiral up through it with the counterpoint of an elliptical, copper-clad lift tower. Outdoor space flows from the dining area, with a glass-fronted pool across its width. This home was shortlisted in the NSW 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, MCK Architects,


Planchonella House was designed and built by Jesse Bennett Architect with a simple idea in mind: to create joyful spaces that inspire and enrich daily life. Set in tropical north Queensland, the house embraces the heritage rainforest surrounds and draws on experimental passive design methods. The simplistic approach and use of lo-fi technologies results in a raw and honest dwelling. The large flat roof with generous overhang mimics the rainforest canopy above; minimal walls and columns in between allow for unobstructed views and interaction with the landscape. This lack of boundaries between inside and outside gives an openness to living, engulfed by a beautiful landscape. The courtyard contributes a lot to the house, offering sun, light and ventilation. It provides connection to the surrounding rainforest and from one part of the house to another, and acts as the focal node to the promenade experience of moving through the dwelling. This home won the Australian House of the Year at
the 2015 Australian Institute of Architecture Awards, Jesse Bennett Architect,


With magnificent proportions, this grand 1891 Sydney terrace home required Brendan Wong Design to take a decorating approach that reflected the client's interest in contemporary furnishings and the home's period architecture. The client's brief was to introduce a convivial mix of warmth and modern elegance to create a space that was both calm and visually inspiring, while still catering to the needs of a growing family of five. The design seeks a strong first impression with finer details, new textures and finishes. A palette of statement-making emerald green throughout is picked up in the dining chairs, upholstered in green Lelièvre 'Sultan' velvet. The mirror-like reflective finish of the black Japan floorboards, custom-made macassar dining table by Brendan Wong, and Robyn Cosgrove rug play host to the bold art. This home was on the 2015 Residential Decoration Shortlist for the Australian Interior Design Awards, Brendan Wong Design,


Smart Design Studio transformed this gracious Victorian villa in Sydney's Woollahra. Their brief saw the renovation and extension of the historic house to create a comfortable family home and gallery for the client's incredible art collection. A perfect blend of old and new, it celebrates the home's original characteristics, most notably fireplaces and early paint schemes. The new wing to the rear matches the grace and substance of the original house, but where the old building is rich in detail, the new is spare. Striking double-height concrete walls are animated by plenty of sunlight, while concrete walls and floors extend into the garden, making the landscape seem part of the decor.
This home received a 2015 Residential Design Award in the Australian Interior Design Awards,
Smart Design Studio,

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