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Around The World
Design Hunters

Bathrooms That Benefit From A Connection To The Natural Environment

It’s safe to assume that most people presented with images of Jesse Bennett Studio’s Planchonella House for the first time would have a strong reaction to its breathtaking beauty. Queensland-based architect Jessie Bennett and his wife, interior designer and practice co-founder, Anne-Marie, designed and built the house themselves a few years ago and until recently lived there, too. It’s an incredible study in environmentally responsive architecture and one that blurs the boundary between inside and outside to the point where the house is as much embedded in its setting as the setting is embedded in the house. It really did establish a new Australian benchmark for what can be achieved using passive design, in this case the Venturi effect to create air flow.        

But then again what’s an architect to do with a site such as this one in remote tropical north Queensland, surrounded by heritage rainforest on all sides except south? To work against the climate and landscape would be to disrespect the natural environment and, after all, why build in a location like this if bringing the outside in isn’t high on your agenda? While the glass walls of the house’s undulating profile lend each room its most compelling design expression, it’s the bathroom that stands out for its strong connection to the outdoors. This is a clear interpretation of the bathroom as sanctuary; a quiet oasis where one can retreat and seemingly enter another world.

Of course, bathrooms with this type of connection need relative seclusion in order to work, otherwise privacy becomes an issue. A bathroom with glazed walls and timber-framed full-height operable windows would simply be misplaced in a high-density urban environment. Context is paramount and while incorporating the principles of biophilic design should be encouraged at all times, the connection with nature has to be logical otherwise the outcome appears forced, like it’s trying too hard.

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Planchonella House by Jesse Bennett Studio. Photography by Sean Fennessey

New Zealand’s remote mountains, planes and beaches certainly lend themselves to bold residential designs that blur the boundary between inside and outside. And for a project like Kawakawa House in Piha by Herbst Architects, the brief specifically asked for a beach house that takes advantage of its coastal surrounds, so the clients can enjoy it at any time of the year. Situated at the base of a steep mountain slope, the site abuts a forest of mature Pohutukawa trees and the architects elevated all the living quarters to an upper level, ensuring the views of the ocean aren’t compromised.

“We also wanted to make the most of the view of the trees and mountain as well as let the light in from above,” says practice co-founder Lance Herbst. “So we installed a continuous clerestory window to the perimeter of the upper volume.” This is a singular, striking design solution that brings a sense of cohesion to the home. And in the bathroom, it allows filtered sunlight to dance atop the space’s green tiles and dark timber surfaces. In this instance, the outdoors isn’t so much a backdrop as it is an accent, whereby a finely tuned scheme uses natural light to warm the bathroom during the harsh winter months, made all the more striking for its mindful restraint.   

Kawakawa House is a fine argument for treating the bathroom in the same way as any other room in the house. Just because it’s not a social space or somewhere people gather, doesn’t mean its design approach has to be different from the living areas, where connection to the outdoors is highly desired and, in fact, becoming an increasingly popular request amongst clients. In many ways, the bathroom poses the biggest challenge because of space constraints and existing services, but all that means is that there’s greater room for innovation. Case in point, Austin Maynard Architects’ renovation of an Edwardian-era house in Melbourne’s North Fitzroy.

The clients, who also work from home, asked for a design solution that would treat the dwelling like a sanctuary; their own quiet haven in amongst a busy inner-city suburb. As founding director Andrew Maynard explains, “At Kiah House we were charged with the task of creating spaces, both private and shared, that spill out into the garden and yet are adaptable enough to create solitude and privacy when needed. The idea was to give the clients a light and airy house with a ‘strong and positive vibe’; somewhere they could entertain family and friends, but also relax and meditate.”

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Weekend Villa by Kentaro Ishida Architects Studio. Photography by Norihito Yamauchi

Inspiration was drawn from traditional Japanese gardens and Buddhist retreats of Kyoto. As a result, the master bedroom has a dedicated Buddhist prayer space and opens up to the garden and ponds via sliding double-glazed panels. The bathroom is treated in the same way, with full-height glass doors opening up to a small private garden created in the gap between the new addition and the existing house. It’s the perfect context for the sunken brick bath, which takes its cue from the ancient Japanese onsen (natural hot springs), which were traditionally located outdoors.

In this instance, the architects have used red clay bricks salvaged and recycled from demolition sites around Victoria. It’s an aesthetic that deliberately evokes a sensual, earthy quality that makes anyone who uses the bath feel as though they’re bathing within the landscape. The singular use of brick throughout the bathroom also contributes to its immersive qualities, enhancing the outdoor connection.

This concept of being at one with nature during the most personal of everyday rituals is important for creating a calming, relaxed environment. And taking time for oneself, treating the bathing experience as a moment to retreat and recharge, can contribute to a greater sense of wellbeing. Japan’s emphasis on bathing, whether in a public context or the privacy of one’s own home, is deeply embedded in the culture because there’s an understanding of its wellness benefits. The bathtub may be experiencing renewed popularity within Western bathrooms, but in a Japanese bathroom it’s long been customary and in today’s residential bathrooms it’s not uncommon to see designs evoking the traditional outdoor onsen, space and setting permitting.

In Kentaro Ishida Architects Studio’s Weekend Villa in Karuizawa, the architects have created an open wet area that brings in the mountain area’s landscape. The villa itself comprises three interconnected volumes with roofs that resemble giant leaves and this biophilic expression is reiterated in the bathroom. While the space’s edges may be straight, the rich colour palette echoes the dense natural surrounds and the reflection of the trees within the bath water visually blurs the boundary between inside and outside beyond the full-height window’s glazing. Not everyone may want their bathroom to connect to the outdoors and certainly, that’s not even possible in all homes. Yet there is something to be said for the benefits this connection brings, from the visual appeal and appreciation a scheme can elicit to a number of personal benefits. And in this fast-paced world, feeling clear-headed, refreshed and relaxed is not to be underestimated.

Photography courtesy of the architects. 
Kiah House by Austin Maynard Architects
Kiah House by Austin Maynard Architects. Photography by Tess Kellyabc
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A New Take On ‘A Material World’

The brief for this new family home was to create a clean, modern aesthetic utilising timeless, functional finishes while bringing in warmth of natural elements. The result is a breathtaking combination of bold and varied finishes inspired by the sturdiness and texture of natural stone while catering to the engineering constraints of building a multi-level dwelling. Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | fireplace The clients’ request for stone within the master bedroom – located on the upper levels of the residence – presented weight issues for the design. Though this was nothing Webber Architects were unable to overcome. Out of this challenge came the spectacular feature wall made from Earp Bros’ Wood Wall Pure. Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | feature wall (master)
“The soft patina of the tumbled wood, arranged in a layout reminiscent of stacked stone was able to… provide a warmth that linked to the use of timber throughout other areas of the home”, says the team at Webber Architects.
Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | Wood Wall Pure Also aiding in keeping the weight of surfaces down while keeping the use of natural materials up is the considered application of Earp Bros' Airslate Kashmir on the wall surrounding one of the fireplaces. Spanning a vast 1200 x 2400mm in surface area yet reaching a maximum of 4mm in thickness these natural stone sheets are extremely lightweight, flexible and quite frankly an ingenious product. A New Take On A Material World  |  Airslate by Earp Bros. Absolute cohesion and flow indoors-through-out is achieved with the use of large format concrete look tiling throughout the interior and exterior living areas as well as all bathrooms. Due to the ability to select a number of formats within the one tile range at Earp Bros this look works flawlessly, giving the areas a sense of being wrapped in soft concrete tones while having the serviceability and practicality of a porcelain tile. Earp Bros earp.com.au Photography by Alexander McIntyre Photography Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | Concrete look tile Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | staircase Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | master bath Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | Bathroom Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | outdoor fireplace Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | exterior feature wallEarp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | exterior feature Earp Bros x Webber Architects cc Alexander McIntyre Photography | streetviewabc
Around The World
ARC - Feature

Traditional Cambodian Culture Informs The Design Of The Modern Luxury Hotel

It may appear easy to draw a simple cube but the context it is inserted into defines the complexity and meaning of this gesture. The context here is the island of Koh Russey off the coast of Ream in Cambodia’s southern ‘Riviera’, and the cubes refer to 63 ocean-facing villas and pavilions for Alila, adjoined and staggered within native landscaping. Designed by Singapore-based studiogoto, the clean, graphical architectural massing of Alila Villas Koh Russey draws from a key motif the architects have employed as a tribute to the local Khmer culture, as well as a base from which to explore pattern- and form-making. The Cambodian Krama fabric is symbolic of the Khmer people, integrated into their daily lives – as scarves, headgear to protect from the sun, for decorative purposes and even hammocks to lull young children to sleep. It formed a key reference point for studiogoto. “As the Krama is essentially a piece of check-patterned fabric, how do we interpret it in a spatial manner without losing the juxtaposition of the lines?” questioned studiogoto’s co-founder Chioh-Hui Goh. In plan, it is translated into stepped, sunken lounges tracing the terrain, which has been dutifully retained. Three-dimensionally, it is most dramatic as the reception building’s roof that folds down to shield against the elements. “The lines of running timber create delightful spatial layering and allow integrated lighting to dramatise its geometry,” says Goh. In the main restaurant, the motif manifests as latticed doors and a pixelated ‘mural’ of cubes. “The timber comprises many prominent species found locally in Cambodia, and is meant to encourage discourse and awareness of the local forests. The sizes of these blocks are small as they are recycled from leftover wood cuttings,” shares Goh. This ecological approach adheres to the Green Globe environmental standard that the Alila brand adopts. At Alila Villas Koh Russey, local materials such as local hemp fabric, timbers and stones are used in abundance. Rainwater and surface run-off water are collected and recycled; solar panels on the roof reduce dependency on generator electricity; public spaces are naturally ventilated; and large overhangs support passive enjoyment of the regional climate. Back to the discussion of the ‘cube’: dialogues between inside and outside, privacy and engagement are created with large glazed openings and screens. The simplicity of the form allows focus on the picturesque surroundings and intricate detailing on timber elements. The pure cuboid forms are also miles away from the highly decorative and sculptural tropes of traditional Cambodian architecture, which is most synonymous with the Khmer construction of the Angkor temples. Alila Villas Koh Russey is distinctively modern, yet the appropriation of components influenced by the Krama motif also renders it familiar. “We wanted the end result to also be a piece of work that the local community could feel for – that they could see the resort as a positive and progressive interpretation of their culture and architectural heritage,” says Goh. To this end, the designers have succeeded. Aside from a brief spate of innovation in the 1950s and 1960s, especially by architect Vann Molyvann, when traditional Khmer architecture merged with elements of regional modernism, architectural evolution has stagnated due to the travesties of the 1970s and the focus afterward on economic development. It would be bold – but not wrong – to affirm that the resort’s design paves a new direction for Cambodian architecture. studiogoto studiogoto.com abc
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The Furniture You Love, Reinvented

When things work you don’t touch them. As creative beings in a creative industry this is more often than not easier said than done and sometimes, temptation overcomes restraint. In its desire to offer something fresh for summer to its design-loving clients, Tait has been somewhat ingenious in getting the best of both worlds. In its 26 years Tait has worked with some of the country’s most talented industrial designers including Adam Goodrum (Trace, Volley), Trent Jansen (Tidal) and Justin Hutchinson (Jak + Jill). The resulting collections champion modern design and the very Australian nature of outdoor living. Tait Mokum An Australian Outdoor Story trace modular When Tait first released the Trace collection designed by Adam Goodrum in 2017 it was an instant success in both the residential and commercial markets. Crucially, the entire collection in its material makeup is carefully engineered to withstand the harsh environmental conditions Australia is often subject to. Aluminium, stainless steel mesh, sustainable timbers and marbled porcelain materials comprise the frames whilst premium and high performing upholstery offer texture, tactility and reinforce durability.  

Channelling late-century nostalgia and “dreamy scenes of laissez-faire lounging” key pieces from the Tait catalogue will be available upholstered in rich Mokum fabrics.

  And now this collection, among others, is reinvented. An Australian Outdoor Story is the result of a collaboration between Tait and Australian and New Zealand based contemporary textile company, Mokum. Channelling late-century nostalgia and “dreamy scenes of laissez-faire lounging” key pieces from the Tait catalogue will be available upholstered in rich Mokum fabrics. Evoking the 70s and a biophilic return to nature via textural weaves, plush velvets and Tropicalismo-inspired prints, this updated series creates instant atmosphere. Tait Mokum An Australian Outdoor Story jak lounger World-renowned Australian costume designer Catherine Martin also plays a key role in An Australian Outdoor Story, having worked with Mokum on a high performance outdoor fabric range that is at once playful and sophisticated. The Tropicalia range features visuals of leafy fronds and banana bunches and debuts on the market through the Mokum and Tait’s collaboration. The muted palette of this patterned collection works exceptionally well with the dusty tones of Mokum’s South Beach collection of outdoor-graded velvet fabrics to round out An Australian Outdoor Story. “In recent years, performance advancements in outdoor materials have improved so much so, that we can readily achieve the luxury of an indoor lounge with one that is all-weather,” says Tait’s creative director, Susan Tait.  

The muted palette of this patterned collection works exceptionally well with the dusty tones of Mokum’s South Beach collection of outdoor-graded velvet fabrics.

  Never doing things in halves, Tait and Mokum release An Australian Outdoor Story via a private residence set against the backdrop of Sydney’s idyllic hidden coves. Lush greenery, monumental Brutalist architecture, dramatic cliffs, mermaid green bays and styling by Steve Cordony provide the perfect context for these highly designed pieces. Tait madebytait.com.au Mokum jamesdunloptextiles.com Photography by Robert Walsh Tait Mokum An Australian Outdoor Story Tidal lounger Tait Mokum An Australian Outdoor Story trace drinks trolley  

World-renowned Australian costume designer Catherine Martin also plays a key role in An Australian Outdoor Story.

  Tait Mokum An Australian Outdoor Story Volley South Beach Sky Tait Mokum An Australian Outdoor Story volley Tait Mokum An Australian Outdoor Story trace armchair Tait Mokum An Australian Outdoor Story Steph Moffit Susan Tait We think you might also like the DL Collection by DesignByThem x Dion Leeabc
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HAP - Feature
Design Hunters

Meet Your 2019 Habitus House Of The Year Jury

Habitus is gearing up to announce the carefully curated selection of 20 recently completed residential projects that span the width of the Indo Pacific Region for the 2019 Habitus House of the Year selection. But, before we do that, we are so pleased to share with your our 2019 Jury. We are thrilled to have Architecture Editor / Author / Curator Karen McCartney; Consultant Architect Howard Tanner AM; and Founder of Burley Katon Halliday and Anibou Neil Burley return to the round table for a second year. Likewise, we are honoured to extend the invitation to Design Editor / Commentator / Curator and Publisher David Clark; Architect, Design Reviewer and Design Advocate Shelley Penn; and Architect Palinda Pannangara join us on our journey this year. Habitus founding editor Paul McGillick and Indesign Media Founder / Publisher and CEO Raj Nandan return as conveners.  

Karen McCartney

Habitus House of the Year 2019 Karen McCartney Karen McCartney was the founding editor of Inside Out and remained at the helm of the title for ten years. She has since published eight books on residential architecture and currently resides as the architecture editor of Belle and weekly design columnist at Good Weekend. Alongside business partner Jayne Ferguson, Karen launched a creative and commercial strategy consultancy business, Edit’d, for premium design brands, sharing the expertise she had acquired along the years in her various roles.  

Howard Tanner

Habitus House of the Year 2019 Howard Tanner In his decades of practise as an architect Howard Tanner built himself a reputation specialising in the residential, educational and heritage market. He founded his own architecture practice called Tanner Architects in the 70s and it grew and evolved with new Principals Alex Kibble and Robert Denton. The firm became Tanner Kibble Denton Architects in 2012. Although he has passed on the baton officially at TKD Architects, he keeps himself in the midst of the industry as a consultant architect.  

Neil Burley

Habitus House of the Year 2019 Neil Burley Neil Burley has spent his career firmly within the architecture and design industry. However, he’s had a number of different focal point. Neil Burley Design was established as a graphic design studio that quickly bled into the spheres of interior and product design. In 1989 David Katon and Ian Halliday joined as partners and the business was renamed Burley Katon Halliday and exists as we know it today. In 1995 Neil left to run Anibou, the great purveyor of European bentwood such as Artek, full time. In reconition of local talent, Anibou quickly extended its offering to include local designers, emerging and established, such as Tomek Archer, Frank Bauer, and Caroline Casey.  

David Clark

David Clark David Clark is perhaps most well known for his decade-long tenure at Vogue Living as Editor in Chief. Since leaving the title in 2012 he has continued his career as a Design Editor, consulting to private clients, design businesses and organisations. He has been a Guest Curator for the National Trust of Australia and currently sits on the board of the Design Institute of Australia. David’s history in architecture, design and decoration consistently informs his contribution to the dialogue and discussions in the industry.  

Shelley Penn

Shelley Penn Shelley Penn began her own practise in 1993 and has very much directed her career trajectory to feed her passions and sense of purpose. In addition to her work as a practising architect, Shelley has worked with the government as an advocate, design reviewer and evaluator strategic advisor on achieving excellent outcomes in public projects. She has also reviewed large-scale developments for the private sector. She maintains her position and interests as a sole practitioner with a residential project completed every few years.  

Palinda Kannangara

Palinda Kannangara As a student of architecture in Sri Lanka, Palinda Kannangara trained under Sri Lankan modernist architect Anura Rantavibhushana, who had worked with Geoffrey Bawa for 16 years. In 2005 he established his eponymous architecture practise Palinda Kannangara Architects which has since become known for its experiential architecture that hinges on simplicity and connection with the natural environment.   Habitus House of the Year wouldn’t exist without the support of our friends, colleagues and regular collaborators in the industry. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to our Major Partners Gaggenau, StylecraftHOME and Zip and Supporting Partners Armadillo & Co and Earp Bros. Likewise we would like to recognise our Television Partners for joining us on our journey to a new medium.   Habitus House of the Year | 2019 Partnersabc
Design Hunters
DH - Feature

According To The LBDA Jury, Metaphor Studio Are Masters At Spatial Planning

Metaphor Studio was founded by Stephen Goh and Angela Tantry in their home. Twenty years later,
 much has changed. While it kept to a close-knit
 team of six, Metaphor Studio has built a formidable portfolio of projects that garnered the studio a Special Commendation for Interior Design Firm of the Year at Lookbox Design Awards (LBDA) 2018 – it was one of three firms to be bestowed the award. What ultimately won the jury over was the studio’s mastery at space planning, use of materials, and balance of proportions and scales. These skills were honed through years of practice, one that started long before the inception of Metaphor Studio. Stephen’s design journey began after he completed his ‘O’ Levels. “Instead of going for holidays like many of my classmates, I was asked to spend my time learning some hands-on skills in a carpentry workshop,” the design principal shares. It was not how he would have liked to spend his post-‘O’ levels freedom but the stint sparked an interest, which subsequently deepened when he learnt how newfound friends in other interior fields found fulfilment in their work. A chance meeting with a designer also led him to pursue part-time interior design courses, followed by a diploma programme. With three years of working experience by then, he studied architecture in the United States and began working with renowned architects. This marathon of a journey led to the birth of Metaphor Studio in 1999. The experience of the interior space is crucial to Stephen and [design principal] Angela. To this day, he finds joy in the “creative process of understanding a space in relation to the specific requirements
of its occupants.” Metaphor Studio’s work can be recognised by its use of dark hues with natural finishes, bold planes and rigorous lines. Each interior presents a meditative quality that melds with the carefully chosen sculptures and accessories. Says Stephen: “Metaphor Studio is rooted in the traditional culture of developing a design scheme. Without much compromise, we have constantly been practising interior design by being true to the design process, so taking shortcuts is a taboo within our studio because we understand the consequences everyone has to pay.” In an arena where quality is compromised due to time and cost, Stephen believes that having more interior designers with an architectural background could push boundaries and raise the quality of design. In addition to Metaphor Studio’s exacting approach to design, the studio eschews trends, preferring instead a robust design discourse on what works for the particular home and client. The studio aims to raise public awareness on the practice of residential interior design and elevate the standard by “solving essential practical needs and suggesting better ways to use a space with creative air within the given site,” Stephen explains. “This is one of the most rewarding aspects of being a designer and why I continue doing what I’m doing.” Metaphor Studio metaphor-studio.com Profile photography by Mark Lee [caption id="attachment_91651" align="alignnone" width="1170"] In this landed home, Metaphor Studio played with lines and volumes while maximising the living area’s view of greenery for greater comfort[/caption]   [caption id="attachment_91652" align="alignnone" width="1170"] This walk-up apartment was designed with the intention of holding frequent community gatherings but with the practicality needed for day-to-day living[/caption]  abc

Project 281 Offers Something New In Melbourne’s Crowded Café Scene

For fear of stating the obvious, good cafés aren’t hard to come by in Melbourne. Victoria’s capital has long been a world leader in the coffee scene and those after a decent flat white don’t have to search for long before finding one. With this badge of honour, though, comes more pressure on owners to offer up cool, comfortable and most importantly, original venues to pique the interest of spoilt-for-choice Melbournites. This was just the challenge posed to architecture firm Splinter Society, when they were approached to design a café space in an old warehouse building in Melbourne’s Brunswick. The clients wanted a café that felt uniquely local; somewhere that responded to the history of the site and the neighbourhood’s industrial roots, but also worked in a contemporary context. Project 281 Splinter Society cc Tom Ross busy “The warehouse was a printing factory, and connected to a heritage Victorian terrace which housed the printing offices,” explains Chris Stanley, architect and director of Splinter Society. “We wanted to work with the textures and fabric that had been created through the previous printing processes and usage. This included scars in the floor where pads had been poured to support the machines, cut-outs in the brickwork of the old heritage building, and [the] exposed steel structure that supported machinery and the factory shell itself.”  

The expansive footprint of the warehouse was broken down into more intimate spaces by the statement stacked cast concrete forms.

  The raw and unrefined materials selected to update the site remain typical of what one might find in a warehouse. Steel and concrete were used liberally, from the feature lighting fashioned from offcuts of rebar steel to the mighty custom-poured concrete service counters. In fact, many of the materials used in the renovations were sourced in the warehouse itself, and later upcycled. This approach meant that almost no demolition or landfill was required on the job. Project 281 Splinter Society cc Tom Ross greenery The expansive footprint of the warehouse was broken down into more intimate spaces by the statement stacked cast concrete forms, which double as plant pots. The site boasts a coffee roastery, yoga space, kitchen garden and a large kitchen, prep and storage area.  

The raw and unrefined materials selected to update the site remain typical of what one might find in a warehouse.

  The hard raw materials are tempered by the array of indoor plants and garden beds, designed to grow and develop naturally over time. “The building was designed to live and breath,” Chris says. “Additional skylights were put in to allow the significant indoor plants and garden beds to grow. Over time these will start to take over and feel like a greenhouse.” In a city inundated with cafés, Project 281 stands out as an unfussy, honest, and welcoming ode to a neighbourhood that’s central to Melbourne’s story. This – coupled with the promise of exceptional coffee and meals, of course – will entice locals to the venue for years to come. Splinter Society splintersociety.com Photography by Tom Ross Dissection Information Blackbutt tables Studio Italia light fittings Precast concrete sumps planters from Frankston Concrete Products Plants by Eckersleys Garden Architecture Steel mesh from Nepean Mastermesh Tarnished mirrors from Varga Brothers Benchtops are Insitu Concrete with CCS black oxide mixed through in layers, poured on site by Integrated Construction Services Project 281 Splinter Society cc Tom Ross layout  

“Additional skylights were put in to allow the significant indoor plants and garden beds to grow.”

  Project 281 Splinter Society cc Tom Ross bar Project 281 Splinter Society cc Tom Ross menu Project 281 Splinter Society Tom Ross overview Project 281 Splinter Society cc Tom Ross cast concrete planters Project 281 Splinter Society cc Tom Ross exterior We think you might also like Java Café by IKSOI Design Studioabc
ARC - Feature

What Does It Mean To Live Off-Grid?

What does it mean to live off-grid? In practical terms it means living without public utilities, such as electricity, gas and water. But there is also a spirit of living off-grid: a self-sufficiency, freedom and autonomy, and a romantic notion of living in harmony with nature. Elemental House designed by Ben Callery Architects captures both aspects of what it can mean to live off-grid. Perched on the precipice of a steep hill in High Camp, Victoria, Elemental House is designed for its climate and landscape, with a desire for simplicity and to weather the forces of nature. “We wanted to pursue an architecture that feels elementally of this country,” says Ben. The clients, Jim, recently retired from the Bureau of Meteorology, and Sue, a travel writer, wanted an off-grid retreat to escape the city for long weekends. “They wanted it to be modest in scale and finishes and provide only the essentials – as is a traveller’s way,” says Ben. “They also wanted it to engage with the elements, reflecting their deep affinity with the landscape and the broader environment.” Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Jack Lovel exterior Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Dave Kulesza deck Being on a high, exposed site, the house is subjected to hot summer sun, cold winter winds, extreme gusts and the threat of bushfire. To its benefit, however, the northern sun enables passive solar gain in winter, and the southerly breezes provide natural ventilation in summer. The square, squat profile of the building counters this harsh climate: its low-slung form is braced for impact against strong winds, and its deep, chunky eaves provide summer shade and withstand the gusts. Meeting BAL-29 requirements, spotted gum timber clads the walls and eaves, and lines the ceiling and soffit, as if creating one large canopy over the house. “It is an elemental expression of what we crave out here – shade,” says Ben.  

On a high, exposed site, the house is subjected to hot summer sun, cold winter winds, extreme gusts and the threat of bushfire.

  The house has a 10-metre-by-10-metre footprint and simple layout. The entry and hallway align with the easterly view toward Mount Piper, drawing people into the kitchen, dining and living area oriented along the ridgeline. Panoramic windows take in the breadth of the landscape, and decks to the north and south provide alternatives for outdoor sheltered space. The bedroom faces north and the bathroom looks south. Both are more intimate in scale with views through the picture-frame windows of distant gnarly trees. The material palette reflects the raw, subdued nature of the site, while dark, shadowy colours evoke a sense of shelter. Burnished concrete provides thermal mass and increases ambient light; spotted gum brings a sense of warmth and amplifies the views; and oriented strand board is painted charcoal grey to maintain texture on the internal walls and cupboard fronts. Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Dave Kulesza open plan Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Dave Kulesza kitchen dining Elemental House produces its own power and water with 24 solar panels and a 20,000-litre rainwater tank. It uses no gas, and heating is provided by a single wood fire and a reverse-cycle air conditioner. An experimental heat-shifting in-line fan shares heat between rooms, and high levels of insulation, double glazing and thermal mass help maintain stable internal temperatures.  

“[The clients] wanted it to engage with the elements, reflecting their deep affinity with the landscape and the broader environment.”

  “This building achieves the practical and pragmatic requirements of being completely off-grid and self-sufficient. But more so, it captures the spirit of what it means to live off-grid,” says Ben. “It embodies a sense of freedom and adventure. The form confronts the elements but also works with them to make a naturally comfortable home.” Ben Callery Architects bencallery.com.au Photography by Jack Lovel and Dave Kulesza Dissection Information Wood fire from Stovax Sanden Heat pump Solar panels from Envirogroup Integrated fridge from Fisher & Paykel Oven and cooktop from Miele Bath from  Moda Lucia Sink from Franke Impact Spotted Gum timber cladding and decking from Hurford Aluminium windows from Rylock Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Jack Lovel living room Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Jack Lovel corridor Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Dave Kulesza bedroom Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Jack Lovel bathroom Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Dave Kulesza storage Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Jack Lovel large windows Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Dave Kulesza timber build Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Jack Lovel rainwater tank Elemental House Ben Callery Architects cc Jack Lovel entry We think you might also like Nulla Vale House & Shed by MRTN Architectsabc
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The Launch Of Habitus House Of The Year 2019 Is Fast Approaching

Last year Habitus celebrated its milestone 10th anniversary and in doing so Habitus House of the Year came into being. For now more than ten years the title has been sourcing, celebrating and showcasing exceptional architecture and design across the Indo Pacific Region. The longstanding mission of the title has been to champion our local designers and their ability to stand out in a global scale. While each issue of Habitus acts as a quarterly snapshot of architecture and design across the Region, the September issue is afforded to do so on a much larger scale, consuming the entire magazine. Habitus House of the Year is a carefully considered selection of 20 recently completed architecturally designed houses. They are recognised in their ability to showcase what it means to live through design across our unique Region. In less than one month, on September 12, the 2019 annual Habitus House of the Year edition will be released and the projects comprising the selection announced. And in late October, the second season of the Television component will air. The houses that founding editor Paul McGillick and myself, as editor, have chosen to include in the incredibly tight 2019 selection are as far reaching as India and Sri Lanka. Moving south we pass through Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, Singapore, all corners of Australia before finally reaching our most southern arm in New Zealand. We are excited to reveal these projects to you, our loyal republic of Design Hunters, to join in our appreciation of an architectural clarity of concept and formal expression of said concept; an emphasis on a sense of place be it geographic, climatic or cultural; the promotion of social and environmental sustainability; and most importantly to clearly embody an expression of the residents’ way of life. For the team at Habitus, each project included in the elite selection is a 2019 Habitus House of the Year. Out of all the projects that cross our desks – from our own research; the architecture writers and editors across the Region sending work in for consideration; architects and photographers who think of us as they celebrate a completed job – to be one of 20 is no small feat and we congratulate you all. However, like last year, we like to check out work. So once again we’ve engaged an independent jury of industry grandées to reflect on our final selection and give us their mutually agreed upon Habitus House of the Year. In addition, there will be four commendations for Interior And Exterior Connection; Outstanding Interior Architecture; and Architecture And Landscape. The final accolade is of course the People’s Choice Award, so make you sure you have your say as soon as voting opens for your chance to win the 2019 Ultimate Design Hunter Package. Habitus House of the Year wouldn’t exist without the support of our friends, colleagues and regular collaborators in the industry. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to our Major Partners Gaggenau, StylecraftHOME and Zip and Supporting Partners Armadillo & Co and Earp Bros. Likewise we would like to recognise our Television Partners for joining us on our journey to a new medium. The exceptional jury will be announced shortly, make sure you are kept in the loop. If you’re not already signed up to our twice-weekly newsletter, sign up HERE. If you’re not already following HabitusLiving on instagram, follow us HERE. And if you’re not already following us on FaceBook, change that HERE.   Holly Cunneen Editor   Habitus House of the Year 2019 John Wardle Architects   abc
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Black Box Architecture Reimagined

Creating a relaxed, community vibe in dense, inner-city Melbourne is a tough act by any stretch. But Steve and Keryn, who grew up in Adelaide and rural South Australia respectively, wished to do just that for their growing family.

With busy careers and three children, they were rapidly running out of space in their Kensington residence, which they’d bought in 2011 on a tightly packed street just four kilometres from the CBD. Built in 1914, the house sat somewhere between Edwardian and art deco in era and features.

The challenge was how to do more with less, by creating something new at the rear in contrast to the existing house and take it from a three-and-a-half to a flexible four-and-a-half bedroom home with a kids’ rumpus doubling as a fifth bedroom for guests.

The Ridgeway House Ha cc Derek Swalwell kitchen

On the plus side, the block was bigger than the single-fronted cottages across the street. This afforded a beautiful north-facing backyard that the family wanted to preserve as much as possible by minimising an extension. The downside was the five-metre brick boundary wall to the east, which prevented solar access to the backyard.

“We also wanted a private space, and not to look into everyone’s backyards,” Keryn says. Enter Nick Harding, principal architect at Ha Architecture. An old school friend of Steve’s, Nick was not only someone they felt would properly listen to their brief, but also would respond to Steve’s own ideas on function and practicality as an expression of his career as a workplace architect.

As feasibility ensued, the three worked meticulously to make every available inch work. The design was then pared back so that the house could simply adapt – without any fancy tricks – to how the family wished to use it throughout the years.

The Ridgeway House Ha cc Derek Swalwell staircase

“It’s everything from small, tiny scale design: a spot to sit with your kid right through to how rooms relate,” Steve says. “All good architecture and design is really more about being a setting to life rather than an object that you create.”


The two-storey black box is on the right, anchored by a spacious lounge/dining area at ground level which also flows out to the backyard.


With a heritage overlay to the façade, the three kids’ bedrooms and family bathroom in the front haven’t changed, but the old lounge has been converted into the kids’ rumpus-slash-fifth bedroom.

The remainder comprises the renovation beyond the central walkway, with the L-shaped element oriented to the west, abutting the boundary wall. The new kitchen and concealed laundry are to the left, with a timber deck and steps down to the backyard, while the two-storey black box is on the right, anchored by a spacious lounge/dining area at ground level which also flows out to the backyard. The main bedroom, study and ensuite are upstairs.

The Ridgeway House Ha cc Derek Swalwell lounge

The box is a fairly simple design form, but its layering of rich detail adds unexpected surprises with clever functionality.

The angular cantilever and raking roof line tracks the precise movements of the sun for maximum solar access to the backyard and kitchen façade. Meanwhile the double-height stair with its ephemeral white balustrade connects the kitchen, living, bedroom and study above.

“The void makes these spaces that could otherwise feel tight, feel airy and plentiful; and the small footprint feels connected and generous,” Nick says. Steve and Keryn can turn and shape the house themselves too, using operable full-height glass windows and vertical timber screens that slide to control the sun, light levels and garden views.

“Exploring light in this way means the house can adapt seasonally, creating a temporal experience of the home,” says Nick.

The Ridgeway House Ha cc Derek Swalwell living room

Upstairs, the bedroom and study have been tailored to suit how the couple lives. Dimmable lights at a low level on the bedhead wall joinery enable Steve to rise for travel without waking Keryn, with a little light strip allowing him to see his clothes. Beyond, the ensuite slots neatly into the cantilever over the end of the house – a decision that went against Nick’s intuition but works procedurally well in the space.

Downstairs, there’s a wow factor moment reserved for the kitchen island bench. Acknowledging people moving through and flowing around the space, its curved, round shape contrasts against the rectilinear design language, and was one of the most hotly debated elements in the house.


“The void makes these spaces that could otherwise feel tight, feel airy and plentiful.”

  The Ridgeway House Ha cc Derek Swalwell skylight

“It’s this futuristic thing floating in the middle of the room,” Steve laughs. “It implies that you want the whole house to revolve around it.”

Finally, an unexpected moment is the soft glow of light in the kitchen that peeps through the lower slats of the cabinets, mirroring the design language of the vertical timber screens.

Whether enjoying a sandwich in the sun on the steps, entertaining, or listening to the screech of the kids’ BMX tyres along the rear laneway, it’s a house that breathes, smiles and and now feels like home.

“It just feels like us,” says Steve. “Hopefully not too pretentious, low-key but clever.” And that is clever design indeed – the modern-day family model reimagined for inner-city living.

Ha Architecture h-a.com.au

Photography by Derek Swalwell Dissection Information Decking and battens in Silvertop Ash, and charred Woca Black vertical cladding boards from Britton Timbers Blackbutt Veneer Joinery from Timberwood Panels Bianco Carrera marble from Peraway Marble Feltex Carpet in Stonesfields 94 from Mr Carpets Cobblestones in Raven from Eco Outdoor Terrazzo tiles from Signorino Milo lounge from Jardan Molloy Dining Table and Chairs designed by Adam Goodrum for NAU from Cult CH24 Wishbone Chair designed by Hans J. Wegner for Carl Hansen & Søn from Cult Coco pendant light from Cocoflip Highlight pendant designed by Archier from Rakumba Caravaggio wall light designed by Cecilie Manz for Lightyears from Cult Architectural lighting by Light Projects Stove, rangehood, oven and integrated refrigerator from Fisher & Paykel Milli Pure tapware from Reece Stovax Riva fireplace from Wignells The Ridgeway House Ha cc Derek Swalwell study The Ridgeway House Ha cc Derek Swalwell main bedroom The Ridgeway House Ha cc Derek Swalwell bathroom The Ridgeway House Ha cc Derek Swalwell rear extension We think you might also like Kew East House by Jost Architectsabc

Habitus Favourite: Lune de Sang On Australia By Design

Shortlisted for the Living Space category in the INDE.Awards for 2019, Habitus favourite Lune de Sang Pavillion by CHROFI will hit television screens this Sunday as part of Australia by Design (ABD). Bringing the Indesign Media Asia Pacific brand to the screen, this multi-generational design will go in the running to be announced as the winner of the ABD Architecture series. Nestled in the Byron Bay hinterland, the Lune de Sang Pavilion epitomises sustainability and connection to place. Drawing inspiration from the surrounding rainforest of slow growing hardwoods, this multi-generational project is built to last, with evolution and consideration at the centre of the CHROFI brief. A home built from five buildings, the Pavilion offers both public and private spaces, offering a communal home with hints of a private retreat. Designed to weather and wear with time, each building is crafted from concrete and stone and emerges from the landscape like forgotten ruins. As the seasons pass, the building will melt into its surrounds, becoming part of the forest from which it was inspired. Unique in nature and appearance, the Australia by Design: Architecture series will invite you into the project, exploring the Lune de Sang Pavilion like never before. Discover the story behind the project and lose yourself in the details that make this space unlike any other.   Catch the program this Sunday 11 August at 3:00pm, only on 10 and the WIN Network.abc
Design Products
Habitus Loves

Habitus Loves… Pattern

Elba Diamond Tiles from Artedomus Characterised by cool grey tones and soft brown markings, Elba makes for a fitting addition to bathroom walls, floors and kitchen splashbacks. The stone is naturally resilient and available in mosaics tiles and slabs in a range of sizes. Artedomus   Savannah Rug from Armadillo & Co The Savannah rug is the epitome of comfort underfoot. The pattern is reminiscent of the landscapes and grasslands of Africa and has been designed using a combination of high and low pile. Armadillo & Co   James Dunlop Jungle Wallpaper Collection With prints of bold palms, bright geometrics and pretty pinks, the Jungle Wallpaper collection is a veritable colour riot, lending spaces an element of fun and chutzpah. This one’s a keeper. James Dunlop   Wild Berry from Designer Rugs The Wild Berry rug from the Forsa Collection tells a story from interior designer Anna-Carin McNamara’s childhood. The rug’s vivid patterns evoke the designer’s experience of picking wild berries in the meadow. Designer Rugs   Lux Wallcovering from Kube Contract Expect to add tons of decorative appeal to your indoor spaces with the Lux wallcovering by Kube Contract. The stunning timber chevron pattern offers modern-rustic looks with subtle hints of Scandinavian style. Kube Contract   Meet THE OTHERS by Dedon from Cosh Living A collection of handcrafted, anthropomorphic lanterns, meet THE OTHERS amazes with its playful form, colours and sizes. Designed by Stephen Burks, the lanterns appear both decorative and sculpture-like. The lanterns can be presented individually or in totem-like stacks. Cosh Living   ColourForm Sofa from Living Edge Offering exceptional comfort and support for working, the ColourForm 3-seat sofa comes with multiple modules and different back heights to support a variety of user needs. Living Edge   Kuba Musk Linen from Walter.G Inspired by the Kuba textiles from Central Africa and hand block-printed in India, this stunning print makes a statement in contemporary homes thanks to its muted colour palette and off-beat grid of motifs. Walter.G   Aintree Herringbone HW2000 flooring from Havwoods Aintree is a European oak, engineered timber herringbone floor and a visually appealing choice for a classic, timeless flooring look that brings your space together. Use the herringbone pattern to transform your floors into a feature, lending texture and depth within spaces. Havwoods   Tribeca Planter from Arko A versatile planter design with precision laser cut trellis patterns – the Tribeca Planter not only works to add greenery to indoor and outdoor spaces, it’s particularly effective as a privacy screen or a space divider as a calming vertical green wall. Arkoabc