A decade of residential design
Celebrating ten years of the Houses Awards.
Now in its tenth year, the Houses Awards has been instrumental in recognizing both the evolution and excellence of Australian residential architecture. Here, we reflect on the past decade of Australian House of the Year winners, offering an insight into the changing nature of design.
The tenth year of the Houses Awards provides a golden opportunity to look in the rear-view mirror at a decade of Australian residential design. Through the specific lens of Australian House of the Year award winners, we are able to consider how architecture’s response to people and place has progressed in the last 10 years. Across the group of award winners, a number of themes emerge that, over time, represent the evolution of shared design aspirations.
The first common thread that connects the winning houses is evident in the House in Country NSW by Virginia Kerridge Architect (2011 Australian House of the Year). The design is informed by the use of material in the existing stone house to propose a new architectural language in timber. The harmonization of the new build with the heritage remnants of the existing homestead connects the property to both local built history and the physical moment; the result is an enduring reinterpretation of the iconic verandah, and an Australian pastoral idyll.
Similarly, Shearer’s Quarters by John Wardle Architects (2012 Australian House of the Year) presents a painstaking reinterpretation of a quintessentially
pastoral program. New, modern forms are fused to an 1840s cottage and a careful bleeding of architectural language between the two eras creates an entirely original whole. As at House in Country NSW, an earthy materiality, expressed predominantly in timber, unifies the design.
The desire to engage and anchor design in cultural history is continued by architects Vokes and Peters, albeit in a city setting. Connecting a classic, elevated timber Queenslander with a thoroughly contemporary modernist extension, Auchenflower House (2017 Australian House of the Year) takes advantage of the delights of a subtropical climate. Using timber battens in a way that makes the new forms at the rear familiar and yet novel in their geometry, the house explores the vernacular of suburban Brisbane.
In middle-ring suburbia, Bisley Place House by James Russell Architect (2013 Australian House of the Year) also embraces the local climate but does so in a manner that challenges the social setting of new housing developments. By instituting radical permeability – through the agency of oversized garage doors – this home harks back to a time I remember from my own Queensland childhood, when children roamed freely between neighbouring houses.
The only apartment to have received the premier Houses Award, Darling Point Apartment by