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LIVE Profile: Hannah Tribe

Find out what makes Tribe Studio Architects tick as we explore Hannah Tribe’s approach to design.

We caught up with Sydney-based architecture and design firm, Tribe Studio, to find out more about their recent work and how they go about creating homes…


Could you tell us about Tribe, how it came to be, what sort of work you do?

I founded Tribe Studio Architects in 2003. We work at all scales, from urban design to furniture. We’re obsessed with houses and housing, and we love to test our ideas through fast-moving projects, like installations and retail.


The Donna Hay General Store


What’s Tribe Studio all about?

Our philosophy is a constantly moving and evolving project in itself.

We have a strong ethical drive, with a commitment to environmental sustainability and providing equitable access to good design.

We’re also really interested in beauty and experimentation. We’re interested in economy and excess, asceticism and luxury. I’m a painter, so I can’t help but be concerned with colour, texture and composition, while at the same time, we’re informed by conceptual work.



What keeps you inspired personally?

I’m really inspired by the fabulous work of my peers. Australia is brimming with architectural talent at the moment, and I’m really excited to see what this generation will build in the next couple of years.


Creating a home for someone else must be a delicate process, how does the relationship between owner/architects generally play out for you?

It is a really intimate process. We, as architects, need to glean specific information about how a client and their family want to live.


To get a great design result, it’s a real collaboration between client and architect… that’s why all our work looks different – it becomes a true reflection of the people who commission it. We have some fantastic clients, who see the architectural process as a means of creating a specific environment for themselves, and also as a means of contributing culturally – of leaving a built legacy. It is exciting for us to work with ambitious clients!


What are the common issues you face when designing a home? How do you overcome them?

Our most common problem is coming up against the inherent conservatism of local councils. We find that their development controls prevent the worst design from being approved, but they also preclude ambitious design by being too prescriptive. This has been particularly problematic with innovative environmental design.

How do we overcome this? Dogged determination. We are also heartened to see some improvement and hope for more!


Could you tell us about some of your favourite houses?

The Shmukler House is Rose Bay [pictured throughout this story] is our most recently completed project. Apart from some hiccups with Council (see above) this house was an absolute joy to design and build, and it is incredibly pleasing to visit our happy clients in the finished product.


Dani and Paul were a delight to work with. They were very clear about their brief and at the same time, they were very excited about discussing architectural intent on a conceptual level. With this project, I feel like we made a house that we could only have made for them; as an expression of their beliefs and to suit their family lifestyle. And that is so incredibly rewarding.


What is your own home like? Could you describe it to us?

My own house is a construction site. The plumbing and electrical has just been roughed in and it’s a giant mess!

In a couple of months, it will be an environmentally sustainable, experimental and gorgeous little terrace house. We can’t wait.


Do you have any exciting homes coming up? Anything you can tell us about?

We are building a house in Greenwich which is a giant floating wedge, with amazing views, due for completion this year. In Bellevue Hill, we are doing a major project in concrete and stone which is sculptural and delicious.

We’re also doing an absolutely beautiful house for a woman in a wheelchair and her family. She has absolutely impeccable taste, and we are having a great time seamlessly incorporating pragmatic design elements, which address her disability, into the design. It will be a great house.


Tribe Studio Architects


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