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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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NOT HOMES

Reawakening the Senses

Taking over a dual shop front in Paddington, Sydney, The Embassy is a new holistic retail experience for Australian native perfumery The Raconteur. And its opening couldn’t come at a more opportune time – right as Sydney emerges from lockdown. Founded by Craig Andrade, The Raconteur is a perfumery dedicated to Australian native botanicals. The Embassy takes the essence of the perfume brand and brings it to life, unveiling the power of natural elements in a powerful yet restrained way. “The concept of the whole brand is to showcase Australia’s native botanicals. We have our own cultural identity and I want to embrace that,” shares Craig. The interior design for The Embassy explores the rugged natural beauty of Australia in unexpected ways. Floating in the shopfront window is an enormous installation, woven with ropes and hand foraged Victorian tumbleweed, created by floral artist Katie Marx. As Craig says “Even when things die, they have beauty”. Beeswax bowls handmade by Craig have been flipped upside down and hang as organic lampshades, emitting a warming ambience. Ivy plants snake their way around adding a touch of life, alongside the arresting visual presence of prints by Kara Rosenlund. Display stands come in the form of chunks of reclaimed Rivergum tree trunks, polished and capped in brass, made by Greg Hatton, who also made the eucalypt counter. Driven by the concept of activating all of the senses – scent of course coming from The Raconteur’s product range. Each section of the shop has been designated for different purposes showcasing the perfumes and serums alongside scented candles. Touch is highlighted in the Sodashi skincare range, which can be tested over a basin clad in Turkish pink marble (Turkish rose being a classic in the fragrance world.) Moving into the back area a distinct sense of home is evoked with mid-century furniture pieces by Featherston sat next to a Parker sideboard and vintage 1960s coffee table. This area focuses on taste, with a range of Australian and Indigenous cookbooks as well as Warndu Mai food and a custom blend of teas, all available to purchase. Craig’s ambition for The Embassy goes beyond a retail offering. The courtyard garden is a space for workshops where he will teach candle-making and perfumery. Not a single element or addition features in The Embassy without Craig’s stamp of approval and each inclusion has a purpose – whether to inform or education, surprise or delight. “Working with natural scent allows you to understand the properties of nature. Certain molecules have distinct physiological effects and there is a connection between how we feel and our environments. The sensory system is so powerful in being uplifted, energised and engaged and that was why I wanted to open The Embassy,” shares Craig. The Embassy is a space for full immersion and for reawakening the senses. It was a bold move to venture into retail during a pandemic, but it is exactly what people need! The Raconteur theraconteur.co Photography by Dave Wheeler We think you might like this retail concept in Hong Kong, founded by Studio Adjectiveabc
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Happenings

Going Carbon Neutral – These 11 Australian Architecture Firms Have

Unless you’ve been living under a rock these past couple of years, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the Architects Declare movement, and the flurry of Australian architecture firms that pledged their commitment to becoming carbon neutral, in the wake of that hellish summer of 2019/20. Fast-forward to mid-2021, and Fender Katsalidis has just issued the splendid news of its new status—officiated by Climate Active—amongst Australia’s certified carbon neutral architecture firms. This news got us thinking: how far have Australian architects come, since pledging en masse to become carbon neutral? What other leading Australian architecture practices can say that they are certified carbon neutral? Further to that, what does it mean? And where do these ‘certifications’ come from?

What does ‘certified carbon neutral’ mean?

Carbon neutral certifications apply to businesses/organisations that want to, and can, prove that they are actively and genuinely operating with the sustainability of the planet in mind.  When a business or organisation, such as an architecture firm, is certified carbon neutral it means that, its business operations—provision of services included—result in net zero emissions.

Who accredits certified carbon neutral architecture firms?

The authority to accredit architects, as well as other businesses, with a carbon neutral certification doesn’t belong to a single governing body, but a number of organisations. Carbon Reduction Institute (CRI) and Climate Active are two of the foremost Australian accrediting bodies – and each has its own certification programs. Founded in 2006, CRI has been developing and growing a low carbon economy where organisations and consumers can identify those organisations that take genuine action on climate change. CRI fosters this mission through the NoCO2 Certification Program; a logo certification program that enables organisations to communicate their environmental credentials to the world, at the cost of ongoing membership fees. Since its inception, the program has become the most widely recognised and subscribed to climate action certification in Australia. Climate Active is an ongoing partnership between the Australian Government and Australian businesses to drive voluntary climate action. Through its Climate Active Carbon Neutral Standard (formerly known as the National Carbon Offset Standard), Climate Active issues its certified carbon neutral stamp of approval to businesses that have achieved a state of producing nil CO2 emissions, at the cost of a licensing fee.  

Certified carbon neutral architecture firms

With_Architecture Studio

Climate Active Carbon Neutral Organisation since April 2017
With_Architecture Studio was Australia’s first certified carbon neutral architecture practice. It also achieved the nation’s first green star rated multi-residential design awarded by GBCA. Established in Perth in 1985, With_Architecture Studio takes pride in responsible design that shows leadership and helps to create places that inspire and enable people. withstudio.com.au  

Breathe Architecture

[caption id="attachment_71056" align="alignnone" width="1100"]INDE.Awards 2017 | Slack Melbourne, Breathe Architecture WINNER | The Work Space: Slack Melbourne Office, Breathe Architecture[/caption]
NoCO2 Certified Carbon Neutral Business since June 2019
Breathe Architecture is a Melbourne based studio, designing world-class architecture with an enduring and meaningful impact on housing affordability, accessibility, and sustainability. The practice has maintained its position at the forefront of sustainable design its since inception, in 2001; and through award-winning built works, advocacy and design leadership, have built a reputation for delivering high-quality architectural solutions. breathe.com.au  

ClarkeHopkinsClarke

[caption id="attachment_148561" align="alignnone" width="1100"] Beavers Road multi-residential concept design by ClarkeHopkinsClarke[/caption]
Climate Active Carbon Neutral Organisation since July 2020
ClarkeHopkinsClarke has been operating as a carbon neutral business since 2018, and in 2020 was certified by the Australian Government’s official climate body Climate Active. The practice’s carbon footprint is currently 1/3 that of other businesses of a similar size. ClarkeHopkinsClarke offsets its unavoidable emissions by purchasing gold standard carbon credits that support old growth forest preservation in Tasmania, natural habitat protection and indigenous environmental management in Timor Leste and environmental management projects on Cape York through the Expand Foundation. chc.com.au  

Koichi Takada Architects

[caption id="attachment_153249" align="alignnone" width="1100"] Koichi Takada Architects’ Sunflower House. CGI: Doug & Wolf[/caption]
NoCO2 Certified Carbon Neutral Business since July 2020
Based in Sydney since its establishment in 2008, Koichi Takada Architects is a leading architecture practice that believes in enriching communities through organic design. The practice’s approach to architecture is an organic one, seeking to reconnect people with the natural surroundings by bringing nature back into the urban environment. koichitakada.com  

Six Degrees Architecture

Clyde Mews by Six Degrees.
NoCO2 Certified Carbon Neutral Business since September 2020
Sustainability has always been a cornerstone of thinking at Six Degrees, making the practice experts in the creation of socially inclusive, sustainable buildings, interiors and urban spaces. Over 30 years the practice has developed a sophisticated understanding of everything from basic passive thermal design principles to more complex technological sustainable design solutions, and has been recognised through numerous state and national sustainability awards. sixdegrees.com.au  

John Wardle Architects

NoCO2 Certified Carbon Neutral Business since November 2020
One of John Wardle Architects’ fundamental design principles is to explore all opportunities to limit the negative impact that construction of buildings and cities has upon the climate and natural environment. Through research, collaboration, and advocacy JWA have achieved sustainable design outcomes working with a wide range of clients across diverse sites and building types. johnwardlearchitects.com  

SJB

[caption id="attachment_116738" align="alignnone" width="880"] Clark House[/caption]  
NoCO2 Certified Carbon Neutral Business since December 2020
SJB is a multi-disciplinary practice with an integrated approach to architecture, interior design, urban design and planning. The practice responds sensitively to the urban fabric of cities and regions, striving to deliver unique places and spaces that support creativity, equity and the environment. sjb.com.au  

Hayball

NoCO2 Certified Carbon Neutral Business since December 2020
Hayball strives to proactively meet the environmental challenges facing the construction industry and promote the importance of environmental consideration in all that it does. The practice supports ambitions to target energy efficiency ratings and bring award-winning experience working with the Green Star rating tools, including Serrata Apartments and the Library at the Dock. hayball.com.au  

CO-AP

[caption id="attachment_116739" align="alignnone" width="1686"] Surry Hill Terrace[/caption]  
NoCO2 Certified Carbon Neutral Business since December 2020
Established in 2005, CO-AP has completed a diverse range of builds including houses and apartments, showroom and office fit-outs, hospitality design, events, educational and retail design. The practice takes a collaborative approach to realising fresh outcomes for each project, with an emphasis on research and development and an inherent regard for sustainability. co-ap.com  

Elenberg Fraser

[caption id="attachment_116740" align="alignnone" width="1920"] Horizon Apartments[/caption]  
NoCO2 Certified Carbon Neutral Business since April 2021
Elenberg Fraser does not simply aim to keep up with industry standards, but rather act as a force in driving sustainable thinking forward, challenging current paradigms. Through continual advocacy, training, research, and learning, the practice fosters a culture around sustainability which is positive, engaging, meaningful and enriching for all. elenbergfraser.com  

Fender Katsalidis

Climate Active Carbon Neutral Organisation since April 2021
Spanning cultural, commercial, multi-residential, seniors living and hotel typologies, Fender Katsalidis delivers holistic solutions in architecture, masterplanning, urban design and interiors. The practice’s core philosophies – place, sustainability and innovation – are embedded across its project portfolio. fkaustralia.comabc
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The Best Kitchens Unveiled

Inaugurated in October 2020, the Kitchen of the Year Design Contest was created to honour spaces that break new ground in kitchen design. The initiative was open to industry professionals across Australia, whose designs reflected the pursuit of excellence – a quality decisively associated with the contest’s initiator, Gaggenau. Gaggenau appliances adorn the most luxurious kitchens worldwide and the contest offered Gaggenau an opportunity to recognise the design trailblazers behind some of those spectacular interiors. Here, we’re excited to reveal the designs that impressed the judges the most. While an in-person event was not possible, the shortlisted entrants all joined a live Zoom presentation on Thursday 14 October. Hosted by Gaggenau's General Manager Robert Warner and Senior Brand Communications Manager Olya Yemchenko, the winners and runners-up were able to share their insights into each project as it was announced. To add a special touch to the evening, all the shortlisters received a catering pack filled with gourmet treats to celebrate.

Best of the Best & Winner for Southern region – Fitzroy Project by Robert Nichol & Sons

[caption id="attachment_113710" align="alignnone" width="1170"] Fitzroy Project by Robert Nichol & Sons, photo by Damien Kook[/caption] This unique design by Robert Nichol & Sons was not only named the Winner for the Southern region but also took the Best of the Best award, coming through as the overall contest’s winner. “This competition is a great opportunity to showcase and reward excellence in kitchen design. It is heightened by the fact it is hosted by a brand regarded as an industry-leading producer of luxury kitchen appliances,” says David Nicholson, Director of Robert Nichol & Sons. “Kitchen design is often the most challenging of all the rooms of a home, so any opportunity to showcase and promote what we have achieved next to our peers is valuable and rewarding. We are very proud of this kitchen and feel honoured to be considered among so many strong contenders.” David thinks that texture is one of the elements that made their design stand out. “It’s interesting that of the 12 finalists, we were the only entry to feature a wall tile. This is a feature that we consider a hallmark of our projects, and we love the opportunities they present, in this case, the strong vertical lines and rich colour,” he explains.

"Kitchen design is often the most challenging of all the rooms of a home, so any opportunity to showcase and promote what we have achieved next to our peers is valuable and rewarding."

“Texture is something we love. We recognise it’s not just a tactile experience, but a visual one too. In a project such as a kitchen where there are so many disparate elements, we see texture as an opportunity to introduce a mix of finishes, creating strong surface variations and producing a focal point within the home.” “Winning is amazing, not only as recognition for our design but also against the calibre of the fellow finalists,” David adds, “What we are seeing in this selection is just how far kitchen design has progressed, where kitchens have now become the statement piece for house design.”

Winner for Northern region – Hall 20 by Smart Design Studio

Smart Design Studio’s striking, monolithic kitchen was named the Winner for the Northern region. “Given the depth and strength of the Australian design industry, it was humbling to be shortlisted,” says Aaron Wooster, Smart Design Studio’s Head of Interiors, and adds that it is even more so to win above the other talented contenders. [caption id="attachment_113713" align="alignnone" width="1170"] Hall 20 by Smart Design Studio, photo by Romello Pereira[/caption] With sweeping harbour views and a robust kitchen island grounding the space, the refined Penthouse II design by Lawless & Meyerson was selected as the Runner-up for the Northern region. In reflecting the materiality of a period home, St Hubert’s elegant kitchen space by Robson Rak is the Runner-up for the Southern region. [caption id="attachment_113724" align="alignnone" width="1170"] St Huberts by Robson Rak, photo by Mark Roper[/caption] [caption id="attachment_113722" align="alignnone" width="1170"] Penthouse II by Lawless & Meyerson, photo by Dave Wheeler[/caption] The sleek kitchen of the innovative Habitus Townhomes by DKO Architecture and the sophisticated space of Mathoura Road by Carr were both also recognised as the Commendations of this year’s contest. [caption id="attachment_113720" align="alignnone" width="1170"] 97 Mathoura Road by Carr, photo by Ross Honeysett[/caption] [caption id="attachment_114696" align="alignnone" width="810"] Habitus Townhomes by DKO Architecture, photo by Timothy Kaye[/caption] Congratulations to all the winners, runners-up and commendations! It was an exceptional field of entries – see the full shortlist here.abc
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Coco Flip Celebrates Victorian Craft With the Locally-Made Honey Collection

Since its inception in 2010, Coco Flip has turned to local artisans and manufacturers in bringing their concepts to life. “The craftspeople we work with bring so much knowledge and skill to realising our designs,” Kate Stokes of Coco Flip explains. “We literally wouldn’t exist without them, so it’s imperative to us that they are celebrated along with the processes and skills that they spend years honing to make quality products.” [caption id="attachment_116432" align="alignnone" width="1170"] Honey Pendant - Green | Photography Haydn Cattach[/caption] Nostalgically named after Kate’s first pet, a gosling called Egg Flip, the deliberately small studio takes pride in ensuring that each Coco Flip piece is designed to last a lifetime, produced in limited quantities, and carefully crafted - one at a time - by the region’s brilliant makers. This commitment to small-scale local production expresses the brand’s highly considered approach to design and manufacturing. But the expertise and artistry of the local makers are also a distinctive source of inspiration behind some of Coco Flip’s character-filled designs. “Our concepts are often sparked by the potential of a local maker that we come across,” Kate says. “I don’t think our pieces would imbue the same stories and community connection if we didn’t have a relationship with the people who make them.” [gallery type="rectangular" size="large" ids="116356,116411"]   Honey, one of Coco Flip’s lighting collections, is an enchanting embodiment of this sentiment. Made in collaboration with the team at Bendigo Pottery, Australia’s oldest working pottery, and Amanda Dziedzic, Melbourne’s renowned glass artist, Honey fuses ceramics and glass in a way that honours the properties of the two materials. “Both become liquid during the making process, and we wanted to capture that beautiful fluidity,” Kate explains. “Honey is all about its soft curves and tactile materials. There’s nothing sterile or machine-like about them – you can really see the handmade qualities.” The geometric form of the luminaires alludes to the quintessential art deco sensibility and subtly mimics the familiar curvature of the honey dipper - this pared-back aesthetic highlights their materiality and patient, meticulous craft. [caption id="attachment_116355" align="alignnone" width="1170"] Meet the makers - Bendigo Pottery | Photography Jill Haapaniemi[/caption] The ceramic stoneware base of the table lamp, the pendant and the wall light - recently expanded with a single-rim version - is made with clay from Central Victoria. The slip-cast part is available in a charming palette of glazes that range from a toned-down blue and graphic black to warm neutrals and mellow pistachio green, and is fittingly complemented by white or pink hand-blown glass. [caption id="attachment_116678" align="alignnone" width="1170"] Honey Single Wall Light | Photography Haydn Cattach[/caption] Defined by a remarkably even hue - carefully achieved by Amanda Dziedzic using a rod rather than powder glass colour in the production process - the resulting fixtures produce an ambient, soft and diffused illumination. “The quality of light was a big driver – we wanted them to glow like light through honey and be really easy on the eye,” Kate explains. [gallery type="rectangular" size="large" ids="116359,116358"]   The alluring combination of instant familiarity of form, and the artistry of the region’s masterful craftspeople, generates sculptural pieces of Melbourne design that evoke a sense of connection - a cornerstone underpinning Coco Flip’s practice. “We want people to understand the work that goes into crafting our pieces and therefore feel a connection to them, look after them, and enjoy them for many years to come," says Kate. Looking at the Honey Collection, the charming quality of these Australian-made luminaires is bound to bring a soft and relatable kind of sweetness to any interior for years to come.

Coco Flip

cocoflip.com.au [caption id="attachment_116409" align="alignnone" width="1170"] Honey Table - Green | Photography Haydn Cattach[/caption] [caption id="attachment_116360" align="alignnone" width="1170"] The Honey Collection | Photography Haydn Cattach[/caption]  abc
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What Does a New Green Mean to you?

Habitus has always done things differently. We’ve always sought out the uniqueness of the Indo Pacific, finding ways to tell stories, spark inspiration and deliver delight. Keeping with that modus operandi, we have developed a thematic series of videos that are not afraid to delve into the big questions, all while exploring the incredible homes that make up the Habitus House of the Year Special Issue. We’re taking a serious look at these four themes – sustainability, local manufacturing, wellness and design longevity – to consider how they shape our homes and ultimately our lives. Up first is a topic that has been bubbling away for a long time and is now coming into the mainstream spotlight more than ever – sustainability. Through the unique Habitus lens, we examine the buzz around sustainability in a dramatically different way. [caption id="attachment_116483" align="alignnone" width="1100"] Alexander Symes[/caption] Hear from Alexander Symes, whose Upside Down Akubra House took out the Habitus House of the Year accolade in 2020, impressing the judges with its completely off-grid approach. Also featured are Aaron Roberts and Kim Bridgland from Edition Office, discussing the importance of designing from a connection to place, and how embodied carbon impacts the inherent greenness of a building. [caption id="attachment_116485" align="alignnone" width="1100"] Aaron Roberts[/caption] V-ZUG AU’s Managing Director Nic Naes talks through the four key parts of designing and creating sustainably, including end of life and cradle-to-grave considerations. As a society and as an industry we can no longer shy away from the fact that architecture and construction is one of the biggest polluters. There has never been a more critical time, and these projects and practices are just the tip of the iceberg. Now it’s over to you. Habitus wants to know what you think. Share your opinion via a 30-second video, or simply email us or comment online. Together let’s reframe the design conversation. Watch A New Kind of Green now! Read more about the projects featured: – Federal House by Edition Office | The Habitus House of the Year 2021 – Sugi House by Condon Scott Architects | The Sustainable House 2021 – Three Peaks House by Michael Cumming Architect | The Landscape House 2021 – Upside Down Akubra House by Alexander Symes Architect | The Habitus House of the Year 2020 Habitus House of the Year would not be possible without our Partners: Major Partners StylecraftHOME and V-ZUG, and Supporting Partners Natch Essentials, Sub-Zero & Wolf and Rocks On.abc
House Of The Year 2021

End-Lot House

Set in the bustling district of Bangsar in Kuala Lumpur, End-Lot House by Eleena Jamil Architect uses the desirable location to its advantage while creating a private escape for the owners.

End-Lot House draws its name from the original dwelling, an old ‘end-lot’ terrace within a neighbourhood of two-storey townhouses built in the seventies and eighties. The clients are a young couple, with two children under the age of seven. While the location – in the inner-city area of Bangsar, Kuala Lumpur – is highly sought-after, the home needed some adjustments to meet their needs. Eleena Jamil Architect came on board to adapt the house, taking the low ceilings and dark interior, and turning the space into a functional family home, with a roof terrace. End-Lot House stands taller than the surrounding houses, adding a bookend to the street by repeating the same rectilinear language of the neighbours, albeit with a distinct façade. “I think one thing that strikes people as intriguing about the house is the board-marked concrete façade with large, punctured openings at the top with plants growing behind it. We have many people eager to find out more about what’s behind the wall,” shares founder Eleena Jamil. While the house appears simple in its massing, it offers glimpses to the complexities and reconfigured interior behind the form. Internally, spaces have been redesigned to bring light deep inside, while encouraging much-needed cross ventilation – a necessity in the humid climate of KL. The stair is a feat of spatial planning, traversing all four levels of the home through a newly inserted void. It has a lightness of touch with thin plate-steel treads held up by equally thin steel rods. “The staircase seems to be almost floating within the central void of the house against the brick wall. It took some time and many mock-ups before we could get the right detailing of rods from which the steel plates hang,” says Jamil. End-Lot House is undeniably industrial in its aesthetic. This was a deliberate approach driven by both the client and Jamil. In most instances materials have been used in their natural state – bricks and concrete are fair faced; the chequered pattern of the steel plates is highlighted with a dark grey paint. Other elements add some warmth: a brick wall, hardwood timbers and the greenery of the rooftop. Even though in-situ concrete is a common and cheap building material in Malaysia, texture is added through the boardmarked pattern in the formwork. End-Lot House is a combination of robust, honest materials set against a striking rectilinear form, and functional planning.abc
House Of The Year 2021

Collins Beach House

Exterior view of Collins Beach House large windows with blue sky in the background.

Collins Beach House is a harbourside home by Tobias Partners that sits perfectly in the landscape, while every detail inside has been custom-built.

With every project comes the chance to design something special, an opportunity to create a significant response to and for people and place, and the recently completed Collins Beach House in Sydney by Tobias Partners defines fine and thoughtful design coupled with sophisticated living. The architect and client journey began some five years ago, and the build of the 580-square-metre home was two years in the making. With a site that was originally two, and also included a water easement, the boundaries and landscape parameters presented unique challenges when designing the concept. The brief from the clients to lead architect, Matthew Krusin, principal at Tobias Partners, was clear: privacy from and to other homes, a seamless inside/outside lifestyle, a place that was ‘effortless’ in style and connection to the bushland that surrounds it. The result is a truly one-of-a-kind home that embraces all of the requirements and does so with ease and grace. Collins Beach House is defined by three volumes that fully explore and capture the site: two sit at an angle to each other on the ground level, while another floats over the top to create a void. The floorplan of the house is masterful. The garage, guest suite and rumpus room are grouped at the eastern end of the ground floor and the powder room, living, dining and kitchen reach to the western perimeter. Beyond this is the pool at the side of the entertaining areas, as well as an expansive terrace that brings the outside into the kitchen in the middle. Above are the sleeping quarters with main bedroom suite, two further bedrooms and a bathroom and a living room and study. While views abound and change with orientation, there is the opportunity to enjoy a panoramic vista from upstairs and more intimate water views and the natural landscape at ground level. This is a home to relax in, where the outdoors merges with inside and the semi- bush landscape creates a haven that both embraces and contains the residents. With no fences, and a council reserve adjoining the site, the local fauna is free to travel where and when they please, and this of course adds to the great pleasures of living in this location. Mindful of fire regulations, the design has a concise and robust materiality of masonry, rendered and textured concrete, marble and blackbutt timber that also informs the colour palette of white, warm honey tones, greys and browns with accents of black. One of the initiatives of the design is the integration of hidden fire curtains, which are set into sloping steel portals that present as an ingenious solution to the necessary fire safety regulations. This house is effortless in its design, the formulation of the floorplan, the articulation of space and use of voids and the expert resolution of the interior design. Not to mention the curation of the outside vistas and the visual connectivity between all of the spaces within the home. Bespoke joinery has been included in every appropriate space. For example, cabinetry in the living, kitchen and bathroom areas are presented in a form that adds elegant detailing and functional finesse. Collins Beach House has it all with superb craftsmanship, a nature-filled environment and those fabulous water and harbour views, coalescing to give great happiness to those who live there. On first impressions the design of the home appears to be simple and straightforward, however, the site and situation created design challenges and a complexity that has been expertly refined by the architect to achieve a pared-back purity. As Krusin explains, “To be able to take all of that complexity and distil it into something that works effortlessly with a sense of joy at the end sums it all up for us.” Indeed, achieving what is never an easy feat, this home is a place of respite and relaxation, where the man-made world meets and co-exists in harmony with nature – all with such effortless elegance.abc
House Of The Year 2021

Orient Street House

The back facade of Orient Street House by Philip Stejskal

Philip Stejskal Architecture stumbled across an unexpected 19th Century find in this Fremantle home, leading his clients to bravely redetermine their brief.

When Philip Stejskal, director of Philip Stejskal Architecture, first stepped foot into the South Fremantle site of Orient Street House, he assumed the 1924 clay brick cottage at the front was the original dwelling and that the extensions at the back came later. However, says Stejskal, his assumption was surprisingly incorrect, with the bones of the home proving to be from another century altogether. “During an archival search, we discovered that the original building actually lay buried at the centre of the amalgam of structures, beneath a thick layer of render, and behind a series of unsympathetic additions,” says Stejskal. The discovery turned out to be the remnants of a livestock stable from 1896, something Stejskal and his team couldn’t bring themselves to discard. Instead, they set to work giving prominence to the fragments of the 19th century limestone stable in a modern setting. The historic limestone kitchen of Orient Street House by Philip Stejskal Due to the compelling nature of the unexpected find, the clients made the “brave” decision to modify their plans to accommodate the historic structure into their home. Rather than simply housing the walls “somewhere” in the design, says Stejskal, the clients chose to “adopt these historical walls into their vision of the future”. “We believe this project is a true stand-out not because of its detailing or materiality but, rather, on account of our clients' actions and commitment to preserving a piece of local history, even when the act itself would mean substantial changes to the brief they had been formulating for some time,” says Stejskal. Cats sit on the timber frame rafters in the kitchen of Orient Street House. What resulted was a refreshed and textured wall of 300-millimeter-thick historic limestone surrounding the custom-made blond wood cabinetry of the kitchen. The forgotten 19th-century limestone, the 20th-century red-clay brick and the 21st-century grey brick each signify their respective eras yet work to complement each other. A timber frame structure has been superimposed over the kitchen, linking the existing limestone walls, which were re-pointed with lime mortar and supported with new quoining. The varying brick walls now allow the first floor to be suspended overhead. “The new timber elements provide shelter and counterpoint to the historical masonry,” says Stejskal. “Together, these elements gather new spaces around and amongst the old walls, defining interior and exterior as loosely as possible.” The first floor addition is composed of the master ensuite and a balcony deck, and a ‘timber study box’, which floats above the kitchen. The key outcome, says Stejskal, is a home that doesn’t adhere to contemporary open plan conventions, yet still generously links adjoining rooms through the limestone walls and external courtyards. Furthermore, the retention of the old results in inherent sustainability by responding to and repurposing the existing materials, rather than starting afresh. The materials of natural and sometimes stained timbers, metal and glass, were purposefully chosen to age gracefully as a “continuation of the rich stories” that the home holds.abc
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Federal House

Connecting all the senses, Federal House by Edition Office transmutes the every day into an orchestration of carefully considered experiences.

The house nestles, a poised beast in a lush sub-tropical forest, one flank cantilevered off a steep incline. Seen from above, its roofline reads as a ridged carapace. Façades closed, defensive. Yet on approach, as you move about it, the outer wall appears to breathe – robust timber battens, observed obliquely, permit views through an expansive verandah that wraps the structure on two sides. Occlusive but porous, Federal House is imbued with a dynamism that belies its very evident stillness. “We were really focused on how the house would perform in its setting, the way it connects to landscape and to a sense of deep time,” says architect Kim Bridgland. “The primary objective was to ground the house – and the clients – to that place.” The place is the hinterlands of Byron Bay in northern New South Wales. The clients, like the architects, are based in Melbourne. While ostensibly a secondary residence, the house is designed to evolve as life unfolds. Entered from the west, the dark concrete floor gives way to a central void – open to the sky and descending to a fresh-water pool that anchors and aerates the house. To the left, a wide indoor walkway leads around the north façade, effectively describing an internal cooking/dining/living zone. A row of sleeping and bathing rooms (“an enclave of withdrawal, rest and solitude”) forms the east wing. A lounge area abuts the integrated garage to the south, punctuated by a secondary portal oriented uphill into dense camphor forest. “The idea was to minimise the living and sleeping spaces and maximise the outdoor connective zones adjacent to them,” says Aaron Roberts, who co-founded Edition Office with Bridgland in 2016. “So, when the weather is right, you can expand the house out. And when the conditions are cooler, you can pack it down and heat  certain spaces. This creates a more intimate atmosphere around those living areas, at the same time heightening awareness of context.” While the plan is rational – essentially, three interior volumes arranged around a central courtyard – the experience of the house is ultimately emotional. That’s partly because, as you move from the long view, approach and pass through the ventilated façade “its object-ness dissolves”, as Bridgland puts it. But moreover, because as you cross the threshold all senses are solicited, abetting an impact that was until then purely visual. The blackened timber battens are rough-hewn, enticing to touch, drawing the visitor in. Rich earth and fern smells emanate from the central atrium. Acoustics attenuate. Temperature drops as a breeze climbs the hillside, crosses the subterranean lap pool, funnels up the stairwell and disperses about the house. You can almost taste it. “We wanted to allow the landscape, the elements, in,” says Roberts, pointing out the way light bounces off the downstairs pool and dapples the entrance. “The experience is similar to that of a waterhole in a secluded valley,” adds Bridgland. Yet, for all its deference to nature, Federal House (named for the nearby township, population just over 700 souls) is assuredly architectural. Composed as a concrete plinth atop which is poised a timber sculptural event, the structure is weighted to the base, disintegrating skyward. Grounding building, and its inhabitants, in place. The lower volume is obliquely angled to telescope valley views; the concrete construction echoes Peter Zumthor’s Therme Vals in the Swiss Alps – which the client visited during the design process. The upper floor, with its play of mass and void, solid and air, is an incarnation of Japanese novelist Jun’ichiro Tanizaki’s essay In Praise of Shadows, published in 1933. Celebrating an aesthetic that revelled in the dark drama of Noh theatre, the deep eaves and nooks of traditional housing, even the meditative joy of a chilly outside toilet on a dusky evening, Tanizaki has become something of a touchstone for architects who seek to celebrate the nuance of semi-obscurity. For Bridgland and Roberts, the reference allows them to move beyond site specificity and tap into a certain timelessness. “We find beauty not in the thing itself but in the patterns of shadows, the light and the darkness, that one thing against another creates… Were it not for shadows, there would be no beauty.” Tanizaki wrote that. But it might well be an Edition Office mantra. The interior nods eloquently to Scandi maestro Alvar Aalto in its use of warm timber floors and walls; furnishings are in honey-hued leather, unvarnished ply, offset by touches of black metal. Like Aalto’s Helsinki Villa Mairea (1939) vertical timber battens create visual linkages to the surrounding landscape. Like Aalto, Bridgland and Roberts designed bespoke hardware for Federal House, notably door pulls that the hand encounters like a caress. “Aalto would have risen to give us a whack on the back of the head if we didn’t follow his path of phenomenology in designing a door pull that you consciously touch in a particular way,” Bridgland laughs. He believes the house, like all Edition Office projects, has “a particular singularity”. That it is “a whole thing unto itself” but nonetheless exists intrinsically in relation to its setting. “Each person who comes across that place brings their own understandings of what it means to them, of what the friction or the overlap between that new building in that place might be. For us, that’s a really interesting dynamic.” Singular the house may be, but its appeal is universal; at once of its place and otherworldly.abc
House Of The Year 2021

Safdarjung House

Inspired by regional modernism, this apartment building in New Delhi uses local materials and craftsmanship to create a contemporary residence.

A circular aperture peers out on the façade of this bespoke apartment building on a quiet street in New Delhi. While a simple gesture, the intent defines the project. Designed for a family for private use, the building features four apartments, each layered up vertically, hemmed in on both sides. With a nine-metre width to the building’s front, light is crucially brought from both ends. To optimise the layouts and planning, all services are concentrated in a core along one side of the building. The living space opens up with full-height windows to allow light to spill in. The top floor is dedicated as a shared rooftop courtyard, open to the elements. The inspiration for the building’s circular form on the façade is drawn from the history of modern architecture in India, most notably the iconic work of Louis Kahn. A soaring geometric void is punctured by a large circular motif, formed in thin brick tiles, which allow the harsh Indian sun to pierce through and cast long shadows to the interiors.   A key element of Safdarjung House is the materiality and execution of the façade. Combinations of brick, paving, concrete and plaster all come together. Exposed brick walls to the interiors along with board-formed concrete make for a modern, industrial aesthetic. While white cement plaster brings a gentle touch. Locally sourced Kota paving slabs are used for the flooring, sprinkled with mustard yellow Jaisalmer stone in the courtyard and the bathrooms. Internal courtyards create a lightwell for natural light and cross-ventilation. The same Kota stone has been used to create a series of cantilevered steps. Safdarjung House illustrates an evolving understanding of the durability of materials in the harsh Indian climate. Every component of the building has been selected with parameters of high performance, inherent robustness and energy efficiency.abc
House Of The Year 2021

Cummings House

Restored to its former modernist glory and supplemented with a strategically subtle extension, Cummings House is a respectful contemporary update to a historic home for a young family of four.

After a series of poor renovations and updates were made by a previous owner, Matt Kennedy of Brisbane architecture firm Arcke was approached by clients wanting to return Cummings House to its former modernist renown. “A large part of the brief from the client was to get rid of the legacy of a poorly implemented previous renovation,” says Kennedy. Cummings House was originally designed by Robert Cummings, a prominent architect and founding professor of the University of Queensland’s architecture faculty who is generally credited with bringing modernism to Queensland. The 1935 predominantly timber residence departs from the ornate timber and tin forms typical to early 20th Century Brisbane and embraces modernist ideals – with a Queensland twist. High ceilings with copious windows and timber frames and floor in Cummings House. Earlier updates saw significant “brutal” modifications that were unsympathetic to the original design, including heavy roof forms at the rear, concrete that was at odds with the building’s lightweight structure, and a convoluted entrance at the front. Modernist principles that Cummings picked up on tours of the USA and his time working in the UK are exemplified in the Cummings House, says Kennedy. “But a lot of modernism was not relevant to the Australian climate,” says Kennedy. “He was starting to experiment with how modernist ideas could be implemented in a more traditional context of a Queenslander building.” As such, the house is a minimal, lightweight structure with copious windows and sweeping ceilings. Kennedy undertook rigorous historical analysis of privacy, drainage issues and solar diagrams – a process made easier by Cummings’ prominence – to help him shape the new designs. The clients also requested a minor extension that would respond to the original principles of the home. Kennedy designed the structure to develop a “symbiotic relationship between the new form and the old”. What resulted was the addition of a delicate roof at the rear that mimicked the pitch of the original roof – sweeping up to the northeast and down to block out the harsh western sun – with its own individual material palette, ensuring that it be distinctive yet complimentary. While minimal interventions were made to the home, bespoke cabinetry was installed and detailing of doors and windows were carefully designed to match the original features. Arcke’s approach to the renovation is quality over quantity, a value the clients also held. “The great thing about the client was that they were very much on board with our philosophy of trying to preserve a small footprint, both from a planning point of view, but also from a sustainability point of view,” says Kennedy. “They didn't want additional bathrooms and additional bedrooms. They just wanted the spaces to work better for them and be configured better.” As such, the extension simply provides a more spacious living room and kitchen, alongside shelter for the exterior deck. “I think there is always a heavy responsibility there to feel like you're doing justice to the original design as much as creating something fresh and new,” says Kennedy. Arcke’s respect for the space has allowed the historic home to be honoured, with a charming and distinctive update that increases liveability and does justice to Cumming’s original intent.abc
House Of The Year 2021

Three Peaks House

Framed by mountains and overlooking Lake Wanaka, Three Peaks House captures the essence of the small township on New Zealand’s South Island.

Protected from the elements, this tactile house responds to the region’s disparate weather conditions, which get below freezing point in winter and turn into dry, hot summers. For Sydney-based architect Michael Cumming, the project was an opportunity to spend more time in New Zealand’s southern alps, taking in the breathtaking scenery that includes the mountain ranges of Roy’s Peak, Treble Cone and Mt. Aspiring. “I wanted to ensure the breadth of these mountains was included from inside this new house, including the peaks,” says Cumming, who noticed that many homes on the South Island didn’t fully embrace this opportunity. “I just couldn’t simply slice of these peaks for those sitting in a living room, or in their bedrooms,” says Cumming, whose design includes high-raked, timber-lined ceilings. Designed for a retired couple who share their time between Sydney and Wanaka, an hour’s drive from the main skiing town of Queenstown, the single-storey house is well-anchored on the 1300-square-metre site. Rather than see everything upon arrival, Cumming took a more Japanese approach, creating an entrance with an internal courtyard planted with a single Japanese maple tree. Three Peaks House was conceived as two wings, with a courtyard garden at the core, and bridged by a raised timber deck with a stone fireplace. “The brief was for a fairly flexible design, one that would accommodate family and friends but also respond to a couple coming here on their own,” says Cumming. As a consequence, there are two bedrooms on one side of the floorplan, including the main bedroom and ensuite. And to the other side is a bunk room with a ‘flexible’ room. This room can be used as an additional bedroom or as a play area for grandchildren, hence the inclusion of a large timber sliding door between it and the passage. Aside from the discretely framed aspect at the entrance, the ‘hero shot’ views are captured from the kitchen and living areas, as well as from the main bedroom with the latter also having its own deck. “One of the dilemmas of the siting was not only capturing the mountains but also the northern light, particularly given the weather during the colder months,” says Cumming, who was also keen to create a warm and intimate interior. The dark-stained timber and stone used for the exterior continues into the interior, with local Otago Schist used inside and also to shape the sculptural open fireplace on the terrace. Timber was used generously to line many of the ceilings in the main living areas and the main bedroom, the latter extending to part of the walls to create a sense of envelopment. Other touchstones include concrete hearths with gas fires ensuring that the house can be instantly warm upon arrival. Cumming was also conscious of ‘crafting’ a house, with many of the features, such as the timber island bench in the kitchen, made by Mark Tuckey. The polished concrete floors also function as a heat bank absorbing the north-west sunlight. Given the location and the ability to ski at Wanaka, this house also includes features such a mud room adjacent to the double garage, where ski gear can be removed. And for those extra guests who might decide to arrive at the last minute, there’s the bunk room. While many are eager to don their skis or mountain boots and explore the magical terrain at Wanaka, others will be just as content sitting in front of the outdoor fireplace, with a glass of wine and simply contemplating this magical environment. “As one would expect, once you are there, the duration of the stay gets longer… and longer. And here, literally every room comes with a view, even from the kitchen and looking towards Granny’s Bay (a little pebbled beach),” says Cumming, showing his original schematics depicting a series of arrows to key landmarks. “The intent was to capture all these views,” he says modestly.abc