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Habitus is a movement for living in design. We’re an intelligent community of original thinkers in constant search of native uniqueness in our region.


From our base in Australia, we strive to capture the best edit, curating the stories behind the stories for authentic and expressive living.


Habitusliving.com explores the best residential architecture and design in Australia and Asia Pacific.


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5 reasons why Super Design is the event you’ve been waiting for

Super Design is just weeks away! From November 16-27 things are about to get a little interesting as the most anticipated design festival officially kicks off. Brand new and here to stay, Super Design will feature everything you love about design events in an exciting new format. Bringing together digital, physical and hybrid events, Super Design is all about immersion and inspiration, allowing you to get involved whenever, however and wherever you want! So get ready to experience design like you never have before. You’ll be first in line for showroom openings, get sneak peaks of new products, hear from our killer lineup of industry heavyweights and go behind the scenes for exclusive insights and experiences from the best people and brands from across the globe. Want to know more? Here’s our top 5 reasons why Super Design is the event you’ve been waiting for

1. Activate your all-access pass

Super Design brings together a curated selection of the best and most exclusive local, regional and international content into one immersive hub. For the very first time, your registration will open a world of design that isn’t restricted by time or space - you’ll be part of the community wherever you are and whenever you join. So no matter where you are in the world, simply register your attendance, build your calendar and then join us for live sessions or catch up on events you’ve missed.

2. Choose your own adventure

Forget old-school events filled with boring sessions and filler content, Super Design lets you create the event you want to see. With our customisable calendar, you’ll register for the sessions that appeal to you, building your own lineup that’ll be strictly “main-stage” content only! From interactive digital workshops (such as a deep dive into sustainable design) to intimate physical activations, Super Design puts you in the driver’s seat, letting you pick from digital, physical, hybrid and on demand event formats to control who, where and how you’re connecting with the Super Design community.

3. Rediscover your creative inspiration

In a year that hasn’t quite been brimming with inspiration, Super Design is here to get the creative juices flowing. We’ve curated a lineup packed with speakers, brands and exclusive content that will ensure you’re kept excited and engaged. More than just inspiration, Super Design offers an immersive and interactive experience – putting you in the front row as showrooms (like Cosh’s digital showroom and Sub-Zero’s new Sydney space) are explored, products are unveiled and the future of design is debated. With over a fortnight of sessions to choose from, this is your ticket to the latest our industry has to offer.

4. Keep your finger on the pulse

Super Design is here to refuel connections and keep you up to date with the latest and greatest our industry has to offer. With the best design brands and suppliers showcasing the latest releases and launching brand-spanking new stuff (check out V-ZUG’s newest technology for food and wine preservation) – you will be hard pressed to come away without some serious industry knowledge! Add into the mix that there will be a wide range of design discussions and behind-the-scenes exclusives, so you can tap into rich learning and put yourself at the forefront of design’s breaking news. Super Design is the perfect opportunity to invest in your own professional development – because no one else is going to push your career forward but yourself.

5. Join the community

In a year that has kept us apart, Super Design is here to close the distance between us, cultivating a design-lead community that is brought together across the globe. No matter where you are, the Super Design family is just a click away, ready to connect digitally and physically!

If you haven’t already, check out the full line up and register today to get the most out of your Super Design experience

Design Hunters

Important Qualities For A House

We all seek to celebrate our individuality – yet find comfort in acceptable outcomes. We like the thought of custom-designed pieces, tailored specifically to us, yet almost every iconic designer and supplier has some universal favourites. Suffice to say that there are obvious needs and certain Classic solutions that we all have in common. As much as a house can be designed for the unique lifestyle and its occupants' way of living, the layout and programme shouldn’t be too prescriptive. It’s important that the spaces within a residence are flexible, enabling a changing role for a house, and the needs of its occupants, over the course of many years, In this way second living rooms – useful for families – can become studies or hobby rooms; children’s bedrooms can become guest rooms; and granny flats or separate wings can become accommodation for live-in carers. “It’s wonderful if you can have a house where you can juggle the room uses around, because over the life of the house you will,” says architect and Habitus House of the Year juror, Howard Tanner. Howard feels that residential architecture and its finishes – materials, furniture and textiles – at best form a backdrop to the lives of the people that live there. A house can become an extraordinary assemblage of a person’s or a couple’s life – the things that they’ve accumulated over the years – unusual books, interesting paintings, souvenirs from travels and sabbaticals. “The interior of a house should be relatively subdued, because people and art look best against a reasonably neutral background,” says Howard. When a house is designed in this way, it allows artefacts to shine and showcases the personalities of its occupants: “One’s very own gallery.” This may be simple enough when one is designing an empty room or blank canvas, but a house in its entirely has a multitude of service elements to consider, incorporate and, typically, conceal. Thoughtful architects, according to Howard, artfully hide wiring, ducts, plumbing, solar panels and so on, so that the design looks deceptively simple. “In the best of modern architecture there are a whole lot of complicated things going on [that you can’t see],” he says. Equally, architects and their clients must consider the spaces in which life is most likely to take place. Usually, they will be focussed on the living, dining and kitchen activities and related outdoor areas. When a plan is limited in size, Howard suggests compact bedrooms and bathrooms to enable more generous living and dining areas and a terrace that can comfortably host a group of guests. In a home there should always be a favourite place or special retreat, which alludes to personal comfort and worthwhile relationships – a tranquil corner with books and magazines spread out or piled up; a cat curled up in sunlight; or glass rings on a side table – all signs of thoughtful design and a good personal life interfacing. We appear to be moving into an era in which people will spend more time at home. The benefits of a well-designed house are ever more apparent, and important. Even as offices reopen it’s likely that many will adopt more flexible working practices for employees. “It’s generating a view that we must have a nice place to live. And, if you’ve got a garden, a nice garden to go with the house,” says Howard. What better time than the present to celebrate and showcase the residential projects across the Indo Pacific Region – diverse in typology, size, climate, and geography – that can inspire us all. Browse the houses in the lineup to become Habitus House of the Year 2020abc
Design Accessories
Design Products
Fixed & Fitted

Abey’s Provincial Collection, The Complete Look For The Bathroom And Kitchen

With the Provincial Collection, the team at Abey set about to create a collection that all works in harmony. Whether in the bathroom or the kitchen, this range was designed to both look and function as a single suite. The stunning new range will complement any contemporary aesthetic, and serve as a true style icon for the modern home.


Comprising tapware, showers, baths, toilets, basins, mirrors and accessories, the Provincial Collection is a unified, classic, yet modern style for the bathroom. Abey has sourced the range from some of Europe’s finest design houses, including Armando Vicario, Burlington and ClearWater. The stunning Armando Vicario designed Provincial Collection’s tapware, showers and accessories are Italian made and carry the warmth and timelessness that you expect from luxury Italian design. The Provincial Freestanding Bath range from ClearWater further has been designed to create a sense of luxury from an earlier time. The bath should be a place to relax and unwind, and with a diverse and extensive variety of shapes and styles available, the Provincial Collection has you covered. Made from the premium ClearStone Gloss material, these baths will function and retain their beautiful for years to come. To further invoke the charm of yesterday, Burlington’s Edwardian basins are also a part of the Provincial Collection. The basins, stands and mirrors offer a sense of the classical within a contemporary context. Available in a variety of sizes, the basins are manufactured from quality Vitreous China for a quality crafted design. To complete the Provincial Bathroom range, the Provincial Traditional Toilet combines the latest technology with the classic style of yesterday. A rimless wall faced suite, the toilet is made from Viterous China. The rimless flush and wall faced pan provides easy cleaning.


With the kitchen being the heart of every home, the elegance and timeless style of the Provincial Collection is the perfect backdrop to your next culinary creations. The stunning Provincial Kitchen Tapware designed by Armando Vicario is inspired by the timeless elegance of a Tuscan Villa. Available in a variety of designs from breech sets to pull out mixers, each Kitchen Mixer is an eye-catching piece of jewellery for your kitchen. To complement the kitchen mixers the Chambord Collection of Traditional Farmhouse Sinks is a must-have for the provincial aesthetic. From an entirely French conception, each of the products in the Chambord Sink range is manufactured using European Fireclay, resulting in a sink that is easy-to-clean, safe for any temperature and always hygienic. The four sinks in the range – Henri, Louis, Phillipe II, and Clotaire – are all timelessly beautiful, and available indifferent bowl sizes and configurations. There is something to be said for tradition. The classic style of the Provincial Collection recalls an easier, bygone era, yet married with the technology and reliability of modernity. Contact Abey today to set the finishing touches on your classic yet evolving home. Abey abey.com.auabc
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The Test Of Time: Merricks House By Wood Marsh

“Timelessness” is a word frequently used to describe architecture, but what is the quality of timelessness? To not be affected by time, or be restricted to a particular time or date. Thus, it is the ability of a building to physically, functionally and aesthetically endure time, and to not be the obvious product of a particular era. “Timelessness is something Wood Marsh is always working to achieve in architecture, and it was certainly a key consideration in the design for Merricks House from the onset. More than 10 years on, the ideas behind Merricks House are as relevant as ever,” says Randal Marsh, director of Wood Marsh.  

“Timelessness is something Wood Marsh is always working to achieve in architecture.”

  Merricks House is holiday home in Mornington Peninsula. Completed in 2007, it is still home to the original client, whose brief called for a large, flexible family home with a sense of solidity and materials that age well with minimal upkeep. Wood Marsh designed the house to respond to the organic nature of the surrounding area. Its forms are a continuation of the softly undulating rural landscape, and it has solid, durable natural materials inside and out. “The forms and materiality were specifically developed to look as if the fragmented walls have been on the site for a long time. As the project ages, through its patina and landscaping, the original design intent it is continuously coming to fruition,” says Randal.  

The forms of Merricks House are a continuation of the softly undulating rural landscape.

The abstract form is defined by two tall rammed-earth walls that form a curved spine that sweeps through the house: the steps and ceiling descending at the entrance, and ascending at the other end. The entry between the two walls provides a dramatic thoroughfare to draw people in, while large openings and windows slice through the walls to reveal views across the vines and to the ocean beyond. Living spaces extend to either side of the corridor, as do charcoal-coloured volumes containing six bedrooms and a range of other living spaces. Terraces and courtyards between or within the timber volumes provide outdoor areas with varying degrees of shelter. The natural textures and colours of the material palette contrast with the green manicured vineyard. The warm interior complements the view and offers a neutral backdrop for the client’s art collection, while the exterior is bold charcoal and off-white rammed earth walls. “The earth-wall techniques used in this project, as well as in Port Phillip Estate Winery, informed aspects of our building for RACV Torquay Resort – the largest installation of earth walls in the Southern Hemisphere,” says Randal. More than 10 years since its completion, Merricks House is physically, functionally and aesthetically enduring time, much-loved and used by its owners. “It’s the ultimate compliment that people are still enthused and excited about the originality of their home as when it was built,” says Randal. Wood Marsh woodmarsh.com.au Photography by Jean Luc Laloux We think you might also like Couldrey House by Peter Besley  

Terraces and courtyards provide outdoor areas with varying degrees of shelter.

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A House With Folding Levels And Layers À La M.C. Escher

Housed within the shell of an interwar cottage in the Melbourne suburb of Canterbury, the Escher House by Inbetween Architecture uses the tricky heritage overlay to its advantage, making for an incredibly layered design outcome. Inbetween Architecture worked adeptly within the framework of the 1930s English-style cottage, translating the brief into a light-filled, functional family home. Alongside this was a series of multi-faceted constraints, including that the extension not be visible from the street, a sloping site where the backyard was lower than the house and a complex brief involving competing priorities such as a connection to the backyard in addition to a functional kitchen.  

The kitchen has been stepped down a level, providing a connection to the backyard at eye level.

  As with many mid-century buildings the original dwelling was dark, compartmentalised and not conducive to a modern way of living. The design responds to the sloping site through a carefully arranged series of four incremental levels. By setting a subtle vertical and horizontal interplay, the intersecting spaces create an intriguing arrangement of unfolding and connecting pieces – much in the same vein as artwork by M.C. Escher, the namesake of the Escher House. Another key component of the brief was creating a greater connection to the outdoors. “The clients were keen for a better connection, both visually and physically, between the house and backyard,” says Inbetween Architecture’s John Liu. Through this requirement a clever solution was found. Within the new extension to the home, the kitchen has been stepped down a level, providing a connection to the backyard at eye level, while also creating the opportunity for a platform to wrap around the perimeter of the kitchen. In addition, this informal seating arrangement sits lower to the ground inviting the family to take in the views while sitting and dining together. A ‘wet kitchen’, which features a wok burner and heavy exhaust, was then positioned at the back, stepped down again, helping to separate the messy cooking area from the open kitchen and dining space, contributing to a sense of openness and minimalism.  

By setting a subtle vertical and horizontal interplay, the intersecting spaces create an intriguing arrangement of unfolding and connecting pieces.

    “The split level allowed plenty of storage opportunity and interesting connections,” says John. Space is maximised in every corner with cupboards and storage similarly treated as layered elements, serving as both functional seats and steps. There is even a cheeky pass-through cupboard between the wet kitchen and laundry space, and the main kitchen. On a mezzanine level overhanging the kitchen is a study space, which is flooded with natural light as the window placement captures the best aspect. But not every corner of the project is about the new, there are original details that have been reappointed and maintained, a nod to the building’s history. For instance the formal dining room has maintained the chimney, leadlight windows and cabinets, and intricate cornicing – albeit suitably refreshed with a crisp white paint. Materiality throughout the home plays off the old and the new. On the exterior all of the brickwork has been painted white, while the interior feels fresh and welcoming with natural timbers bringing warmth to the white throughout. Inbetween Architecture’s approach is something of an architectural puzzle, fusing and adapting spaces, ensuring all the pieces come together harmoniously, while working within the constraints of the heritage, the site and a dense programme of functions. Inbetween Architecture inbetweenarchitecture.com.au Photography by Tatjana Plitt We think you might also like Gallery House by Grove Architects abc
Design Products

The Habitus House of the Year Design Hunter Competition is Back… and it’s our Best Yet!

Every year, we celebrate Habitus House of the Year by bringing you - our family of Design Hunters - a curated package that gives everyone the change to bring a little bit of design excellence into their own home. This year is no different, with a stellar package comprising of some of the best items for interior spaces from our favourite names in the business. From chic armchairs to timeless bathroom fittings, this is your chance to walk away with over $17,000 worth of prizes from the likes of About Space, Design by Them, Didier, Euroluce, Phoenix Tapware, Savage Design, Stylecraft, The Green Room and Top 3 By Design. See more about each prize below. Keen to get involved? All you need to do to is pick your favourite house from our 2020 shortlist and cross your fingers. The winner will be drawn on Thursday 19th November so cast your vote and keep your eyes peeled for the magic email.

Ultimate Design Hunter Package: The Prizes

Euroluce, Atollo Medio

The ATOLLO, over the years, has become an iconic table lamp, winning the Compasso d’Oro in 1979 and completely revolutionising the way we imagine the classic bedside lamp. The geometric shapes that compose it – cylinder, cone and hemisphere – have resulted that has become one of the icons of Italian design. Contributed by Euroluce.

Design By Them, Bow Chair by Tom Fereday

Named after its arching slender backrest, the Bow Chair was designed to accentuate the material and crafting of solid timber. Contributed by Design By Them, each transition of the Bow Chair highlights the elegant, natural grain of shaped timber.

Phoenix Tapware, voucher to the value of $3,000

Inspired by innovation and passionate about design since 1989, Phoenix Tapware are market leading pioneers in Australia’s and New Zealand's bathroom and kitchen industry. For Habitus House of the Year, they're giving the prize winner a voucher of $3,000 to spend on Phoenix branded collections including showers, taps and accessories.

The Green Room, Vivenne's Rose Pink Cushion by Vivienne Westwood

The Green Room is a Sydney-based design group founded by creative duo Olly Adam and Maxine Fielding, and is the distributor for The Rug Company in Australia. Over the past two decades, Olly and Maxine have worked internationally in the art, interior and design industries. The pair have become sought-after advisors and creative collaborators, working across a range of sectors, including fashion, interiors, art & music. For this year's prize, The Green Room have contributed a beautiful cushion by acclaimed fashion designer Vivienne Westwood.

Stylecraft, Mantiqueira Vase by Domingos Totora for Tacchini

Mantiqueira is an inspired collection of vases encapsulating art and nature. Offering sustainability in a creative form, Mantiqueira is formulated from recycled cardboard that is reduced to pulp which is then hand moulded to its' sculptural shape before drying and finishing. Contributed by Stylecraft.

Didier, TILLER Lounge Armchair

With trapezoidal legs elegantly tapered toward the seat, recline in confident, leisurely style with the TILLER Oak Lounge Chair. Designed by Didier, the TILLER offers beautifully upholstered comfort with natural oak finishes.

Savage Design, Pam Table

Like your aunty Pam, this table has a knack of being great at many things. Sitting on its own, Pam can be used as a side table. Slide 4 Pams together and you have a larger coffee table configuration. But Pams true potential shines when you use the stacking feature to create a bookshelf or room divider. Thanks to Savage Design, Pam offers an unparalleled ability to adapt to a changing environment and allows the user imagination to decide on its use.

About Space, custom piece from the About Space 2by Range

About Space believes that lighting does more than illuminate a room. It's the final touch to bring life to your space, elevating atmosphere, balancing design choices and enhancing your style. For the 2020 Design Hunter Package, About Space have contributed a custom piece from their 2by range, where minimalist style and sleek lines are the name of the game.

Top 3 By Design, Janua Stomp Coffee Table M and Linie Design Rug

It may look simple, but looks can be deceiving: The BC 05 Stomp is widely viewed as a leading light in the coffee and side table world. With the confidence and poise of a Buddha, this solid slice of tree trunk sits atop a sophisticated metal frame. The Stomp can perfectly complement seating in a variety of styles — providing a striking symbol of personal taste! Thanks to Top 3 By Design, you'll be able to pair your coffee table with a beautiful rug by Linie Design! A modern, Nordic look is woven into all their designs, though they constantly reshape, redefine, reinvent and recombine in the search of surprising expressions and surfaces.abc
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The lineup is here! Discover everything you need to know about Super Design

In a year unlike any other, we’ve all struggled to stay connected and inspired, with new products, physical showrooms and engaging learning experiences seeming few and far between.  Not content to sit back and wait for the world to re-open, we’ve taken things into our own hands, and are bringing you the most immersive and multi-dimensional design event of the year. Coming to you this November, Super Design is here to close the distance between us, cultivating a design-led community that is brought together from across the globe. Get ready to make connections, form relationships and meet the faces and personalities behind the brands you love. Want to know more? Below is your complete and comprehensive guide to Super Design 2020!  

What is Super Design?

Super Design is a jam-packed fortnight from 16-27 November that offers you design without limits. Immersive and multi-dimensional, this design festival brings the latest in design directly to you, wherever you are in the world. This is your chance to get up to speed with all of the greatest product launches and tour the newest showrooms. You’ll meet some of the most inspirational designers behind your favorite brands from Australia to Italy and will delve into design discussions that will challenge the way we think about design.

What sets Super Design apart? 

Super Design puts you in the driver's seat. We’ve created a lineup that is diverse and engaging, allowing you to curate your own schedule and interact with the sessions that appeal to you. You’ll be able to tune in digitally or reserve a space for our physical activations. Can’t make the session you’ve got your eye on? We’ve got you covered with a complete on-demand library that will have sessions available once they’re complete.  So choose from over 40 activations spread across 2 weeks, connect with the best local designers or go on a design journey with regional and international content. Our no borders approach means you can join the Super Design community and access our unique content whenever, wherever!   

Why should I attend? 

If you’re working in the architecture or design space and are passionate about design, Super Design is the perfect way to max out your creative inspiration! But don’t take our word for it, here are some killer reasons why you should jump on board
  • Connect to a design community and get involved in interactive sessions
  • Source the latest in creative inspiration, from products, people and places!
  • Expand your horizons and challenge traditional design narrative with specialised learning hubs in our design discussions 
  • Choose your own adventure and customise your Super Design experience to suit you
  • Super Design is your all-access pass to the design world, giving you behind the scenes insights and exclusive content

How do I get involved?

Attending Super Design is fun, free and easy! Simply head over to the Super Design website and register your attendance, then select the sessions you wish to join. We will remind you as your selected activations come up, so you don't have to miss a thing!

Ready for more? Here’s our full line up for Super Design 2020

All times in AEST

View the full lineup and start planning your schedule here!


Monday 16 November 

10:00am - The Latest Kitchen Technologies - presented by Winning Appliances 12:00pm - Out of Office: the New Working Culture - presented by Flokk 1:00pm - Love Local - presented by Tint 2:00pm - The ‘Must-Knows’ of Lighting - presented by About Space Lighting 8:00pm - In Conversation with Carla Sozzani & Christian Andresen - presented by Cult Design  

Tuesday 17 November

12:00pm - Euroluce Sydney Studio Virtual Tour - presented by Euroluce  

Wednesday 18 November

10:00am - In Conversation with Adele Locke, Expert in Lighting Design - presented by About Space Lighting 12:00pm - The Winning Process - presented by Sculptform 4:00pm - A Showroom Space to Learn how to Enhance your Kitchen - presented by Sub-Zero and Wolf 6:00pm - Light Bulb Moment - presented by INLITE  

Thursday 19 November

12:00pm - Kitchen Confidential: New Directions in Products and Design - presented by Winning Appliances 3:30pm - Discover Artisan - Crafted by Hand, Inspired by Nature - Presented by Artisan Furniture Australia  4:00pm - Interior Landscaping with the New Puffalo Universal Group - presented by Didier 6:00pm - Euroluce Showroom Tour - presented by Euroluce  

Friday 20 November

9:00am - Euroluce Showroom Tour - presented by Euroluce 11:00am - Experience the Sub-Zero Wolf Showroom - presented by Sub-Zero Wolf 2:00pm - Experience the Sub-Zero Wolf Showroom - presented by Sub-Zero Wolf 4:00pm - Supreme Cooling Global Premiere - presented by V-ZUG 8:00pm - Global Game Changer: In Conversation with Kelly Hoppen - presented by V-ZUG  

Monday 23 November 

12:00pm - The Rebirth of the Kitchen - presented by Sub-Zero Wolf  

Tuesday 24 November 

12:00pm - Well, Designed: Health and Wellbeing in the Post-Pandemic Times - presented by Porta 1:00pm - The Culture of Collaboration - presented by Neolith 4:00pm - The Winning Appliances Kitchens - Specifying the Kitchen for your Customer’s Tastes & Lifestyle - presented by Winning Appliances 6:00pm - Euroluce Showroom Tour - presented by Euroluce  

Wednesday 25 November 

9:00am - Euroluce Showroom Tour - presented by Euroluce 11:00am - How the Right Light can Convert your House to a Home with Nicole Rosenberg - presented by About Space Lighting 12:00pm - Design-Led Appliances for the Kitchen & Laundry - presented by Winning Appliances 1:00pm - Meeting of Minds: John Wardle and Durbach Block Jaggers in Conversation with Jan Henderson - presented by Tilt Industrial Design 2:00pm - Cosh Living - Experience our New Showroom - presented by Cosh Living 3:00pm - A Future-Proofed Approach to Design - presented by Cantilever 4:30pm - The Refresh Butler Experience - presented by V-ZUG  

Thursday 26 November 

10:00am - Experience the Sub-Zero Wolf Showroom - presented by Sub-Zero Wolf 1:00pm - How Great Dane Creates - presented by Great Dane Furniture 4:00pm - Experience the Sub-Zero Wolf Showroom - presented by Sub-Zero Wolf 7:00pm - Cocktail Hour! Four Pillars Gin x Cult - presented by Cult Design  

Friday 27 November 

10:00am -  The Culture of Collaboration - presented by Neolith  12pm - Beyond Carbon Neutral - presented by V-ZUG 3:00PM - The Culture of Collaboration - presented by Neolithabc
What's On
HAP - Feature

The First Word From Habitus #49

For the past three years, the Habitus team has pulled together a collection of 20 diverse and wide-ranging residential projects dotted throughout the Indo-Pacific Region for the annual Habitus House of the Year special edition. We’ve looked at all sorts of typologies, from alterations and additions to new builds; compact inner city dwellings to rural homes in sprawling landscapes; full time residences to holidays homes; and briefs from families that are expecting to grow, disperse, age in place or house multiple generations. But there are a few key elements that each and every project we’ve selected has in common. One is a genuine connection to the land on which the building sits. Another is that the architects have clearly understood and responded to their clients’ brief and unique way of life. In addition, while social, economic and environmental sustainability is typically taken into account, it is still worth celebrating when the solutions are innovative and imaginative. These core attributes form the basis of the judging criteria for our jury of independent experts who come together to select which projects will receive Habitus House of the Year awards and commendations to be announced later in the year. And who will you choose for the Habitus House of the Year People’s Choice award? Head to habitusliving.com/houseoftheyear for exclusive online content to help further inform your decision. Submit your vote online to enter the draw to win the Ultimate Design Hunter Package. Holly Cunneen Editor Ruckers Hilly House by Studio Bright. Photography by Rory Gardiner   Habitus would like to acknowledge the support of our Major Partners for 2020: Gaggenau, StylecraftHOME and Zip; and our Supporting Partner: Rocks On. Our Trophy Partner, Axolotl, and our Design Hunter Partners: About Space, Didier, Euroluce, Phoenix Tapware, The Green Room, Savage Design, Stylecraft and Top3 By Design.abc
House Of The Year 2020

Binary Wood House

Responding to place is not just a sentimental exercise. It brings all kinds of benefits: to the existing environment but also to the people who will live there. Overall, it brings a sense of unity and a feeling of belonging. Too often the built environment brings alienation, but a home that responds to its place provides existential security. Place consists of many things – landscape, flora and fauna, existing buildings and structures, the people who live there, and history. Place-responsive architecture takes all of these things into account, along with the character and needs of the people whose home this will be. This house in the north-eastern Thai province of Pak Chong is for a Bangkok-based family of five. Originally it was to be a holiday rental home, but instead became a second home to the family and potentially a home to retire to for the parents. The family wanted space, but they also wanted to respect the environment by minimising the impact of the new house on the landscape. Hence the house, on a site area of 600 square metres and set amongst verdant rolling hills, is oriented on a north-south axis, thus avoiding a forest of established Phayung trees (Siamese Rosewood) which instead now offer shade to the new house from the western sun. This decision formed part of an over-arching sustainability agenda to “touch the earth lightly”. An aspect of this was the way in which the architects used the traditional Korat House from Nakhon Ratchasima Province as an inspiration and a guide. The Korat House is a family of spaces within a single storey wooden structure, with a raised platform and light gable roof. It is a pre-fabricated structure using a modular wall system. The gable roof has gone, but the Binary Wood House is raised slightly off the ground, leaving the earth untouched and allowing life to go on underneath the house. It is a timber house using sustainably harvested timber – 80 per cent of it recycled – re-worked by local craftsmen. Locally sourced materials prepared by local craftsmen is environmentally sustainable, but also helps sustain local crafts and reduce the need to transport materials to site. The architects also borrowed the strategy of using modular, pre-fabricated timber systems, resulting in a structure that retains the aesthetic appeal of the timber façade of the Korat House, but in a very lightweight form. In fact, the house seems almost to de-materialise without any sense of imposing itself on the landscape. But this is no exercise in pastiche. It is part of a clever strategy to optimise the space provided without dominating the landscape. This is also the origin of the house’s name. For each of the spatial modules (3.4 metres in length, width and height), the architects designed in a binary identity: unoccupied/open space and occupied/enclosed space. This means the house has a very fluid programme. Life in the house is not pre-determined by functionally specific spaces. Some, like the bedrooms and kitchen/dining are, but other spaces can be what anyone wants them to be, while still allowing for a balance between privacy and community. The extensive use of permeable timber screens and open pavilions drive a sense of the house being an extension of the landscape – and part of the ongoing story of this place.abc
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Chasing A Better Outlook

Architect Nick Bell’s recount of the alterations and additions project dubbed Balmain House is truly evocative of a jigsaw puzzle. The relocation of one seemingly innocuous but essential element – the stair – saw everything else suddenly fall into place. His clients were living in a weatherboard cottage in the desirable, harbour side suburb of Birchgrove in Sydney. Their home had not only a second storey addition circa 1980, but also a lean-to addition to the rear that held the primary living spaces. Despite these two rounds of retrofitted additions, the residence left much to be desired. It was dark from a deep plan, low ceilings and many internal rooms; ill planned (the eastern outlook that boasted views of the Sydney Harbour Bridge was impeded by a staircase); and despite a relatively large site for an inner city suburb, external living spaces were small and pokey.  

Although the lean-to was removed and replaced, the concrete slab was retained and the form of the new roof pays homage to its previous iteration.

  Needless to say the brief was comprehensive. The clients wanted to replace the lean-to and extend the second-storey addition to the south-west boundary of the site. They also wanted better opportunities for outdoor living – including a small courtyard on the northern side – and an internal reconfiguration of the floor plan. Relocating the stair to the new side addition was key to Nick’s design solution. It freed space from the original plans to give over to a new fourth bedroom and separate laundry room downstairs. This move also meant there was room enough for a double study on the half landing of the staircase. Upstairs a new geometric floor plate creates interest programmatically and highlights the views – uninterrupted.  

A new L-shaped plan gently demarcates the kitchen, dining and living zones, making them easier to furnish but also define.

  Although the lean-to was removed and replaced, the concrete slab was retained and the form of the new roof pays homage to its previous iteration. “Part of the roof follows the traditional form sloping down from front to back whilst the other main section of roof slopes up from front to rear,” says Nick. “Joining these two main roof planes is a third triangular transitional plane. This transitional plane is a large skylight orientated to draw in natural light from the north.” Internally, a new L-shaped plan gently demarcates the kitchen, dining and living zones, making them easier to furnish but also define. The rear glass sliding doors are fully glazed with a minimal frame, this serves to enhance the connection between internal and external spaces, as well as encourage natural light in (complementing the sunlight sourced through the skylight). The concrete slab continues outside to enhance the sense of life indoors spilling outwards. Nick Bell Architects nickbellarchitects.com Photography by Tom Ferguson We think you might also like Bronte House by Nick Bell Architects abc
House Of The Year 2020

Bamboo Veil House

This 680-square-metre, semi-detached house replaces an earlier house on a curving triangulated site. It is for a small family of just three. “[I] had the luxury of building a small house with an ample amount of shade with deep overhangs,” says the architect, Robin Tan of Wallflower. Part of the clients’ brief was for a house that allowed them to host gatherings of a quite large extended family, previously not possible. Otherwise, they were looking for a house that provided connection to the outside and some form of passive climate control, but without any loss of privacy. The solution was found through another request from the clients. They had recently visited Kengo Kuma’s exquisite Nezu Museum in Tokyo and had been taken by the beauty of the bamboo-screened entry processional. Could they have something similar? The result is an elegant curving skin of operable screens made of vertical bamboo columns that forms a second skin to the first floor of the house. The new, smaller house is set back further than the original and this has enabled the architects to have the bamboo screens extend out to the original setback line, leaving a 1-1.5 metre gap to the façade. The effect of this is to create an air bubble which helps cool the interior. The individual screens are pivoting (resulting in less wear and tear) and the gaps between the bamboo columns allow natural ventilation as well as modulating light entering the first floor bedrooms and so creating a gentle play of light and shadow. The public spaces in the house are on the ground floor, which is free flowing with ample entertaining space both inside and outside on the terrace. The private spaces are on the first floor with an attic above providing a study and a future yoga room. Apart from the bamboo screens, climate mitigation is helped by a large overhang that wraps over the attic aided by ample greenery.“We like to introduce pockets of greenery,” says Robin, “because in Singapore owners want to build up to the max. So we like as much as possible to bring the greenery up to the second storey and to the attic level.” In this case, there is a little garden above the garage. This not only helps cool the master bedroom, but it also provides a privacy screen from the neighbours opposite. Planting on the attic floor screens the western afternoon sunlight while also providing some green relief. In these ways, the house becomes an urban oasis with an easy co-existence of private and public life. The private spaces on the first and second floors form a world of their own, but with the option of connecting with the street life outside. Meanwhile, the public living/dining/kitchen area on the ground floor flows easily between inside and outside, making for an ideal gathering place.abc
House Of The Year 2020

Upside Down Akubra House

The residents of the Upside Down Akubra House came to architect Alexander Symes with a relatively comprehensive brief. They owned a 314-hectare bull farm outside Nundle (50 kilometres south east of Tamworth) and had already selected the spot on which the house was to reside. At the crest of a gentle hill the clients wanted to capture the views in literally all directions: Yella Rock to the south, Hanging Rock to the east, views north through a grove of Eucalypts and west over the bull paddocks to the rolling hills that follow. “Essentially an amazing 360-degree view all the way around,” says Alexander. But it wasn’t that simple: given its remoteness, it also needed to be completely off-grid. Alexander’s strategy to reconcile uninterrupted views all round and a comfortable internal climate was to design a massive roof structure with large overhangs wrapping around the entire building. This resulted in a roof 2.5 times the size of the 195 square metre floor plan. This blocks out direct sun during summer, but allows it in during winter to warm up the exposed concrete floors and walls, with concrete chosen for its ability to create thermal mass. In fact, explaining this strategy to the clients is how the name for the project came about. Borrowing an Akubra hat and flipping it upside down, Alexander was able to describe with visual reinforcement his concept. Inside, past an air lock entry designed to conserve the heat in winter as guests enter or exit, the house is organised around a central spine that contains the utility and service areas. On the western side of the plan are three bedrooms, within the service core is an ensuite to the main bedroom, a common bathroom and laundry. The eastern side forms an open study, living and dining area connected to the kitchen that flows out into the outdoor living space. Sliding glass doors access the impressive view towards Hanging Rock, while smaller ribbon windows continue all the way around the house. “There’s a larger window to wall ratio in the living spaces because that looks out to the views,” says Alexander. “But on the west the widow to wall ratio has been reduced so that you can minimise the amount of solar gains and thermal conductivity through the façade.” Moreover, this balances privacy for the bedrooms with the client’s desire for 360-degree views. “Through design or luck a lot of my projects are about aligning prevailing winds, views, and solar orientation to create the building form,” he continues. Blackbutt Hardwood has been used for the doors, windows and joinery while the ceilings and awnings are finished with Radiata Pine. This gives a natural and warm feeling to the interiors and, in conjunction with the exposed concrete, a colour palette that mirrors that of the surrounding landscape. The skillion roof intersects with the carport roof in a double skillion style. The 80 square metres of the carport roof are comprised of LG neon bi-facial photo-voltaics, which in turn generate enough energy to run the house. The angle of the main roof and a 450-millimetre diameter gutter encourages rainwater to the eastern corner of the roof, where it free-falls “like a waterfall” into a concrete trough. This then feeds the rainwater into a 107,000-litre rainwater storage tank that collects enough water for the household and the management of waste. “When it does rain it’s a joyous occasion,” says Alexander. “It’s about playing with the theatre of those moments [but] it’s not theatre for trickery’s sake, it’s theatre for what I consider real issues in the world such as water security and efficient use of resources.” Living off-grid is by no means a new concept, concedes Alexander, but he notes that in this location – both remote and very much at the mercy of extreme weather – it’s entirely necessary.abc