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Margie Fraser’s Ode To The Queenslander’s Of Habitus House...

Margie Fraser’s Ode To The Queenslander’s Of Habitus House Of The Year 2019

Margie Fraser

Margie Fraser, Habitus’ valued contributing writer and Queensland local, shares her perspective on Habitus House of the Year 2019.

Habitus has long championed regionalism in architecture and design. The House of the Year award is fast becoming a critical point of discussion and exposure for some of the most diverse and innovative architectural projects across the Australian and South East Asian regions. I love the scope of this competition, and the way it encourages designers to engage in a collegiate way to share their ideas. It is also an exciting time for home owners, those often un-remarked but crucial collaborators in the vision, to be part of the party.

For me, a response to climate, culture and history are the building blocks of what makes design so fascinating. I recall a wonderful experience walking about a darkened temple at the rear of an historic Peranakan house in Georgetown, Penang. The rectangular room was surrounded by a colonnade of carved stone pillars, affording niches and ledges beyond for offerings of fresh foods, candles and statues of gods. Tall hinged doors at one end were covered in brass reliefs depicting ancient warriors, and opened onto a dainty garden with surprisingly French Provençale leanings, replete with an old deux chevaux citroen on its gravel driveway. Inside, the roof opened to the sky, and after a day of pounding humidity and heat, those heavens suddenly erupted and the rain poured in over the stone. It was an extraordinary, visceral moment that showed how the design served and was so much a part of its physical context – and it seemed, not fighting it but collaborating with it.

The courtyard houses of Malacca provide a similar understanding of how to work with the local streetscapes and the local weather conditions, their prim decorative terrace house plans opening onto private courtyards that layer family living into private and public zones that honour both intimate relaxation and formal occasions.

For this issue I have had the opportunity to visit two very different Queenslander houses. Queenslanders, from colonial and federation masterpieces to humble cottages, have endured for many reasons. They strike a deep chord with anyone who has lived in them or visited them. They are so loved and so flexible, and I enjoy watching the many amazing permutations architects devise to adapt and reuse and restore them for contemporary life. They add grist to our national design dialogue which Habitus House of the Year has encouraged and promoted.

Habitus House of the Year

Habitus House Of The Year wouldn’t exist without the support of our friends, colleagues and regular collaborators in the industry. We would like to extend our sincerest thanks to our Major Partners Gaggenau, StylecraftHOME and Zip and Supporting Partners Armadillo & Co and Earp Bros. Our Trophy Partner Axolotl and our Accommodation Partner Ovolo Laneways. Likewise we would like to recognise our Television Partners for joining us on our journey to a new medium.

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