What It Takes To Make Habitus House Of The Year 2019

Neil Burley returns to the jury for Habitus House of the Year 2019, and this year, he’s on the lookout for residences that are calm, liveable, and climatically considerate.

Neil’s ethos in life can be eloquently summarised in the wise words of William Morris; “have nothing in your house that you do not know to be useful, or believe to be beautiful.”

A brief glimpse at his resume will suggest to you that these could be words Neil lives by, through-and-through. Since commencing his architecture studies at the University of New South Wales, Neil has lived life in pursuit of simple, beautiful, purposeful design. Before he got around to completing his architectural degree, Neil’s multi-faceted design career took off, seeing his practice flourish from graphic design to interior and product design.

“It felt like a natural transition,” he explains, “There’s a very strong relationship between some elements of any type of design. Graphic design may just be two dimensional, but good layout is very much like rational planning in architecture. There are many strong similarities between all those disciplines.”

Having founded architecture and interior design practice, Burley Katon Halliday, and Sydney-based furniture establishment, Anibou following that, there are few more steadfast figures in the Australian design scene than Neil. In his decades spent as an authentic Australian design polyglot, Neil has developed pragmatic and refined tastes when it comes to the design of houses. That is to say, Neil likes his residential spaces calm, balanced, and liveable – nothing wasteful, nothing superfluous.

“All too often at the moment you see designers trying to be really clever, and in doing so, they miss some of the simple functions required to make a house liveable,” he critiques. “A house needs to be climatically right – a pleasure to be in, not just to look at.”

It is this pragmatism – coupled with his extensive experience in design and interiors – that Neil brings to the judging table for this year’s Habitus House of the Year program. “I’ve always believed in design that is appropriate to the site and the brief,” he shares, emphasising an appreciation for the subtleties of a well-designed residential space. “You waste clients money if you give them rooms that aren’t nice to be in,” says Neil, speaking not simply aesthetically, but climatically.

“The two most important things to me are planning and whether something is climatically suitable,” he says, noting the particular importance of climate- and landscape-sensitive design in the Indo-Pacific region, where outdoor living is in our nature, “Planning isn’t just in the abstract. Planning needs to relate to the sun and landscape and the site on which [the house] sits. Overall, I’m much more interested in ‘does the thing work?’ than ‘is it flash?’”

Bringing together 20 of the best residential projects within our Region from the past 12-18 months, the Habitus House of the Year 2019 selection is sure to give him more than ample options from which to choose.


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 Design Hunter Partners Armadillo & Co, Boyd Blue, Earp Bros, Euroluce, Hale Mercantile Co, Nique, Premium Sound, Phoenix Tapware, Project 82, Studio Gallery Melbourne and Tsar Carpets, our Trophy Partner Axolotl and our Accommodation Partner Ovolo Laneways.

Meet the full 2019 Habitus House of the Year jury here.