The buzz is fu­sion

Ar­chi­tec­ture is un­der­go­ing a re­nais­sance, write na­tional prop­erty edi­tor Kylie Davis and Ben Hyde.

The Advertiser - Real Estate - - Architect Design -

AR­CHI­TEC­TURE is the new force driv­ing real es­tate price growth as buy­ers be­come more con­fi­dent and pay pre­mi­ums for homes that re­flect a mod­ern way of life. Peter Mad­di­son, an ar­chi­tect of more than 20 years’ ex­pe­ri­ence run­ning his own firm Mad­di­son Ar­chi­tects – and the host of the com­pul­sive watch for prop­erty junkies

– says ar­chi­tec­ture is un­der­go­ing a re­nais­sance as home own­ers be­come more con­fi­dent about choos­ing Aus­tralian styles.

‘‘Just over 20 years ago there was no such thing as ar­chi­tec­ture. But now ar­chi­tec­ture has be­come pop­u­larised, mainly by real es­tate agents, as some­thing de­sir­able that sells prop­erty,’’ Mad­di­son says.

But it wasn’t al­ways thus. The home build­ing in­dus­try is only just com­ing out of an ob­ses­sion with Ital­ianate and French pro­vin­cial styles – de­signs that have no synergy with the lo­cal en­vi­ron­ment. ‘‘It is an in­dict­ment on our com­mu­nity that peo­ple think they can only look to the past for de­sign inspiration,’’ Mad­di­son says, blam­ing some of it on the high cost of hous­ing.

‘‘There has been a con­ser­vatism where peo­ple are so wor­ried about the in­vest­ment that they’re fright­ened to be brave in a de­sign sense. There’s a be­lief that if it was suc­cess­ful 200 to 300 years ago, it will be suc­cess­ful to­day.’’

But in­creas­ingly, buy­ers are mov­ing away from the need to own homes that are al­ways big­ger than their par­ents. Houses that are big­ger than you need and build­ing un­sus­tain­ably is one of the great­est threats to the en­vi­ron­ment, Mad­di­son be­lieves. ‘‘Look­ing to the past and over­seas cre­ates house styles that are very odd for the Aus­tralian cli­mate. A lot of peo­ple are threat­ened by de­sign be­cause they don’t un­der­stand it and they have such fear about their re­sale value,’’ he says.

But the growth of the apart­ment mar­ket has helped changed the per­cep­tion about what is ac­cept­able.

‘‘The apart­ment boom has given ar­chi­tects a great op­por­tu­nity to show their skills,’’ says Mad­di­son. ‘‘Peo­ple aren’t just af­ter the Miele kitchens and a flash foyer. They want in­te­grated de­sign qual­ity in ev­ery­thing and, as such, ar­chi­tec­ture has been el­e­vated.

‘‘That is some­thing that is dis­tinct to to­day’s mar­ket and that’s some­thing that is quite dif­fer­ent to 20 years ago, when the em­pha­sis was on things look­ing the same.’’

Part of this is be­cause of the strength of num­bers in apart­ments. In­di­vid­u­ally, buy­ers fo­cus on the in­ter­nal space and fea­tures while the ex­ter­nal space is some­thing that de­cides the feel of the com­mu­nity, which, while val­ued, no sin­gle per­son owns.

With de­vel­op­ers and agents in­creas­ingly look­ing for a new buzz word to help sell stock, ar­chi­tec­turally de­signed is prov­ing a sales win­ner that is also rub­bing off on the res­i­den­tial mar­ket.

‘‘We are in a per­fect storm for de­sign­ers in this coun­try, which is a fu­sion of in­te­rior de­sign, graphic de­sign and fu­sion of the arts – never be­fore have I seen so much art and sculp­ture in ar­chi­tec­ture and the re­ally ex­cit­ing thing is that it is trick­ling down to the con­sumer mar­ket,’’ he says.

Ar­chi­tec­ture is not about homes that are ster­ile and clin­i­cal, Mad­di­son ar­gues. ‘‘Per­son­ally I think mess is good – chaos is good; it cre­ates in­ti­macy,’’ he says.

‘‘Peo­ple want their homes to feel like homes. It is about tex­tures and ma­te­ri­als that put rich­ness in your life and cre­ate a point of dif­fer­ence.’’

And points of dif­fer­ences cre­ate a rich­ness that helps get buyer in­ter­est. Keith Lees col­lab­o­rated with an ar­chi­tect to build two sea­side homes at Kingston Park.

Af­ter 40 years in the con­struc­tion in­dus­try, Mr Lees says the value of ar­chi­tec­tural de­sign is im­mense.

‘‘It was quite a tricky site and a fun­nyshaped block of land,’’ Mr Lees says. ‘‘The ar­chi­tect and I worked to­gether on nu­mer­ous schemes for five to six years be­fore we came up with a so­lu­tion we were both happy with.’’

Mr Lees says ar­chi­tects are more likely to max­imise liv­ing spaces and op­ti­mise the nat­u­ral light and cli­mate.

‘‘They get back to the ba­sic prin­ci­pals of get­ting the ori­en­ta­tion right through to get­ting the spaces prop­erly planned and re­ally think­ing it through rather than look­ing purely from an easy and cost-ef­fec­tive per­spec­tive.’’

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