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