Home of the Year 2018

Mel Bright, our in­ter­na­tional judge for Home of the Year 2018, dis­cusses how the work of her Mel­bourne prac­tice is tak­ing on land­scape-driven projects, and how each aims to con­trib­ute to its en­vi­ron­ment through re­la­tion­ship to site.

HOME Magazine NZ - - Contents -

Meet our in­ter­na­tional judge, Mel Bright

What’s on the draw­ing board at MAKE Ar­chi­tec­ture?

Lots of houses and ren­o­va­tions to her­itage houses in in­ner-city Mel­bourne, and a special home on the New South Wales coast. There are some very special projects that re­ally push our in­ter­ests in land­scape and ar­chi­tec­ture – ur­ban forests, roof-top gar­dens, mak­ing use of the whole site and think­ing about de­sign be­yond the walls of the build­ings. We also have a num­ber of larger-scale multi-res­i­den­tial and ed­u­ca­tion projects. We’ve en­joyed see­ing the think­ing and test­ing that has hap­pened in our houses come through at a larger scale. Also, we’ve just fin­ished our new stu­dio and the team is re­ally en­joy­ing our beau­ti­ful new space. What’s driv­ing your prac­tice at the mo­ment? There’s cur­rently a huge fo­cus on land­scape-driven projects. We be­gan by think­ing about how the sub­ur­ban dream of the back­yard can be re-thought in the con­tem­po­rary city, where space is min­i­mal and pop­u­la­tion den­si­ties are in­creas­ing. Our projects in­vert the tra­di­tional ar­chi­tec­ture land­scape re­la­tion­ship and ask, ‘How can land­scape and green space ac­tu­ally drive the project?’ In many cases, this might even in­clude co-opt­ing and ex­chang­ing with the public neigh­bour­ing con­di­tions and out­door spa­ces that bump up against our work. We also re-branded MAKE a few years ago and this was a great ex­er­cise to go through – a key thing is that it shouldn’t be about style. Our projects may all look dif­fer­ent but they are grounded in ideas: we want them to do some­thing and con­trib­ute. How has Mel­bourne af­fected your work? Mel­bourne has a huge num­ber of brick houses and build­ings, which has cer­tainly in­flu­enced us. We also work within the con­straints of her­itage over­lays and plan­ning reg­u­la­tions – this has in­spired many dou­ble skins and tex­tured screens. One of my favourite things about work­ing as an ar­chi­tect in Mel­bourne is the group of won­der­fully skilled ar­chi­tects that we are sur­rounded by – it’s such a sup­port­ive and col­le­giate de­sign com­mu­nity. Did you set out to do so many ren­o­va­tions? Not re­ally, but when start­ing a small prac­tice you have to take ev­ery op­por­tu­nity you can get. Luck­ily I love do­ing them – I love try­ing to un­pick the ex­ist­ing house and we find the ex­ist­ing her­itage re­ally in­spires our re­sponse. The tougher the con­straints, some­times the more in­ter­est­ing the project. We love that so many of your projects have a public as­pect. Tell us about that. We think that even the small­est projects have an op­por­tu­nity to give some­thing back to make a larger

con­tri­bu­tion to the city or sub­urb – ar­chi­tec­ture doesn’t stop at the build­ing, it spills out into the public space and street. We care about the curb edge and the drain. In a sit­u­a­tion where space is com­pressed, you have to care about ev­ery­thing. Our prac­tice is about de­sign­ing the whole site, and so the re­la­tion­ship of the prop­erty to the street is also im­por­tant and some­thing we talk about a lot. In this way, we treat the small house like a public project, with each one able to make a con­tri­bu­tion to the city and the sub­urb and have a role in ac­ti­vat­ing the laneways and streets. Mel Bright speaks in Welling­ton and Auck­land, on Fe­bru­ary 13 and 15, for our Home of the Year 2018 lec­ture, brought to you by Altherm Win­dow Sys­tems. See p.68 for more.

Above The ren­o­va­tion by MAKE Ar­chi­tec­ture of this Cal­i­for­nian bun­ga­low in St Kilda, Mel­bourne, was based on think­ing about how the fam­ily lives and con­nects with their com­mu­nity.

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