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The Melbourne Selection: Habitus House Of The Year 2019

The Melbourne Selection: Habitus House Of The Year 2019

Stephen Crafti on Habitus House of the Year 2019

Our Melbourne-based architecture writer and editor, Stephen Crafti, shares an overview of what Victoria brought to the 2019 selection for Habitus House of the Year.

Habitus House of the Year is a time to reflect on some of the most innovative houses designed by some of our leading architects and interior designers. These projects are not measured by their size, but more importantly, what they deliver in terms of ideas and how they are crafted.

This year, I was fortunate to cover two projects for Habitus House of the Year, one by Austin Maynard Architects, and the other by multiplicity. The two homes could not be more different. Austin Maynard Architects’ beach house is modest in scale and beautifully captures what has been lost in many contemporary beach houses: a sense of escape from the city and offering an experience that once was captured in the humble beach shack from the 1950s. The sand can be easily swept from the polished concrete floors and curtains can be pulled across to create additional rooms for guests. There’s a lack of pretention along with a strong connection to the sand dunes.

St Andrews Beach House (Melbourne) by Austin Maynard Architects cc Derek Swalwell | Habitus House of the Year 2019

St Andrews Beach Shack by Austin Maynard Architects. Photography by Derek Swalwell

In contrast, multiplicity’s conversion of a heritage-listed pump station into a home shows what can be achieved when clients place their trust into the hands of talented designers. Architect Tim O’Sullivan and his life and business partner, interior designer Sioux Clark worked closely with architect Cimone McIntosh on this project. Here, there are moments in design that this writer has not seen before. Acrylic reflective panels, for example, distort many of the building’s period details, creating a dialogue in the process. This warehouse, unlike Austin Maynard’s beach house, is located on the edge of the city, in North Melbourne, and is clearly an urban, rather than coastal response.

Classical Gas (Melbourne) by Multiplicity cc Emma Cross | Habitus House of the Year 2019

Classical Gas by multiplicity. Photography by Emma Cross

Both homes not only capture the clients’ brief but push the boundaries of design, delivering much more than what was expected. Both projects also exemplify a sense of openness to new ideas, with some features requiring a certain amount of client trust in their delivery. As with most innovative designs, there is always the element of trial-and-error. Unfortunately, in today’s safe world, where too much emphasis is placed on resale rather than enjoyment, homes such as these are rare.

Fortunately, as a writer, I encounter such homes from time to time – the pleasure I receive is immeasurable!

Habitus House of the Year

Portrait photography by Derek Swalwell

Habitus House of the Year wouldnt 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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