This month I’m going outside the box and looking at a beautiful house designed by Brillhart Architecture, who are based in Florida in the US. Normally, I like to narrow my focus to Australian and New Zealand architecture but I could not go past this lovely little prototype-type house that is deliciously pared back, vernacular inspired, and perfectly suited to its site and context. It inspires very positive things in me regarding the state of architecture in the world.
There is something quite strange about this house, it seems almost foreign, as though it might have once belonged in northern Europe and somehow floated into NZ, plot of land and all. Perhaps that is part of the reason that I like this house. It has no particularly stunning outlook or rugged landscape to contend with, but instead creates its own quiet, internalised vistas, and does so in a very neat and refined manner.
This month’s House of the Month is a conceptually well rounded alteration and addition that results in a neatly arranged conglomeration of well thought-out, readily communicating interior and exterior spaces. The appeal of this project lies in the clarity and focus of the planning, which places great emphasis on enhancing site lines and creating multiple indoor and outdoor rooms that act as new vistas seen from various vantage points throughout the house.
May and June this year is a bit of a[n exciting] switch up… Instead of my usual life and the usual monthly posts, I travelled through Europe and will be posting about my time spent exploring Istanbul, Greece, and France.
The beginning was Istanbul; seriously one of the most wonderful cities in the world. This is a place that architecture, food, and textiles reign supreme – in effect, it is exactly my kind of place!
I’ve been eyeing off the work of Herbst Architects for a few months now, so my only real issue today was in choosing which house to feature… Sometimes I feel as though I should be writing about the most recent, hot off the press architecture from around Australia and New Zealand, and then sometimes I find myself returning over and over to certain buildings, and that sometimes these buildings just aren’t brand spanking new. I don’t think that this really is a problem, I mean, good architecture should be some of the most lasting of all human creation, so surely a few years here or there doesn’t matter, right?
I’ve always enjoyed the work of Christopher Polly Architect. His practice is so aptly skilled at happily integrating the old and new, comfortably siting crisp black steel and white cladding up against old bricks and stone, and seamlessly refining exterior form to sit comfortably within its neighbouring architectural context.
I’ve come across Wolveridge Architects quite a bit recently, and am almost consistently found to be entirely won-over by their elegantly restrained forms and wonderful materials palette. Indeed, I have to say that it’s quite rare that I find myself drawn to a piece of contemporary architecture as a result of a distinct sense of warmth emanating from within (seems, in some ways, a bit of an oxymoron; contemporary and warmth..), but it is true of the works of Wolveridge Architects, and especially so in the case of their Eltham South house.
Sometimes I find myself drawn to strange things when I’m writing this segment. I begin to notice myself veering off in unpredictable directions and toward completely out of character destinations. It’s a strange phenomena that I can’t fully explain, except in the sense that there’s a lot of room to move in simply thinking about things for pleasure, and not having any further obligation to dissect, interpret, comprehend, or apply them. After years at university doing exactly this to exactly everything I looked at, these days I feel a great freedom to simply open up to things without any further underlying intention other than enjoyment.
I think this place is one of those things. In fact I recently went for a drive up through Merewether Heights and was reminded by a few examples along the road of just how good a good 1960’s house can be, so when I came across this I thought it would be a nice thing to explore. The architect is unknown, yet the house certainly speaks a clear language. I think what I like most about the house is that it would only work in this location. It’s very site specific, both in terms of its plan, landscaping, and interiors, and I think that this quality is always a sign of good architecture and interiors.Never, ever, would I normally advocate a high gloss interior floor tile, and yet here, in the arid heat, I think it’s perfect. Rarely, if at all, would I consider cool white, mint green, tangerine, and sunshine yellow a sensible or appealing interior colour palette – and yet here, it seems quite right. The whole house exudes a real sense of laid back sophistication and summery, linen-clad days by the pool. I feel like if I lived in Indian Wells, California, I would rather fancy stepping out from my usual self and spending my days in a place like this.
Evidently, this segment is becoming more and more inclusive, where I used to focus on a room, I then moved to covering entire interiors, and now I can’t help but just make it an all-encompassing look at a whole house. Having said that, there’s certainly a more light-hearted approach to things here than in House of the Month (for reasons explained above), but it’s becoming ever more clear that a house really should have a sense of character than runs through it’s entirety in order to properly make sense, and I think that’s another reason that this place seems to sit so nicely in the realm of successful space. It has a very simple design aesthetic which gives great clarity to the building, and certainly helps to instate the strong sense of calm that so readily envelops it.
I’m so glad that Emily Summers and her husband rescued this place from its 80’s deformations and reinstated its classic 60’s beauty, because it sure does look lovely now.All images from Architectural Digest
I got a bit excited when I saw this lovely little Paddington house by Adrian Amore Architects – for two reasons. Firstly, I have just realised that of all the focus I put on wonderful, contemporary, Australian Architecture, I have not yet featured a house from my home state of NSW – travesty! And then I noticed that AAArchitects are based in Melbourne; their Paddington house simply being a tasty diversion from their usual Melbourne-centric architectural works… I guess the NSW feature will have to come later!
I love this house. The materiality really gets me. And the light. I’m such a sucker for a warm, sunny little space, I can’t help it, it just appeals so naturally to my inner sun lizard. This house, however, has more than mere sunlight. It has a lot. The planning is careful and yet generous, no-where attempting to squeeze in too much, yet never forgetting anything. Within its little footprint, the house offers a genuine sense of space, openness, and repose.
Last week we walked the dogs in a different part of town, and as usual, this meant that I spent most of the time snooping at all of the houses that up until this point I’d not been past slowly enough to look at in any great detail. This particular street is one of the best in Newcastle in terms of its physical location and the wondrous vistas it carries both northward across the city of Newcastle and its beautiful beaches, and southward towards the national parks that inhabit this stretch of coast just south of Merewether.
Upon this walk I came across a house I’d never noticed before – I don’t know how, except to say that perhaps it sits much more quietly on the street than many of the others, who tend to demand attention. Anyway, it was a lovely old Spanish revival place, just in the midst of being very delicately renovated, and had the most beautiful, traditional, semi-circular terracotta roof tiles (alongside other lovely considerations). There are so many poor (ugly) examples of terracotta roof tiles here in Australia that these ones seemed to so clearly describe why indeed we started using them in the first place. It’s like a lot of things I suppose, being that the original is often so much more simple, elegant, and admirable than its later, watered-down imitators.
This month, I’m back to sunny Brisbane, probably because the cold has now thoroughly set in here in NSW and with winter being my least favourite time of year (save for the novelty of dressing in lovely big coats), I feel an innate need to plant my mind somewhere characteristically warm and bright.
Indeed, this is another contemporary Queenslander; a space which bounces between inside and out, constantly eroding the edge between both, so that at any moment the architecture might slip into the guise of landscape and vice versa. This is such a clever approach to contemporary living for many reasons, but the most pragmattic (and as it happens, environmentally sustainable) is that it genuinely negates the relevance of sprawling square meterage, allowing for a smaller overall footprint, therefore inciting lower quantities of construction materials and a lessened overall environmental impact. It also leaves more room for grass, trees, and fresh air – what’s not to like?!
In 1965, Bunny and Paul Mellon built and decorated this incredible slice of French paradise designed by architect H. Page Cross in the heart of New York. The pair had a formidable sense of style and grace, owning several stunning estates, all of whom continue to exude the most enviable sense of warm and comfortable sophistication. The interiors of their Manhattan townhouse are the result of serious collaboration between several heavy weight designers, including [but not limited to] Paul Leonard, William Strom, John Fowler, Bruce Budd, and Bunny herself. The house is not only architecturally wonderful, but full of the character that years of collected art and furniture bring to a space. It really is a sight to be seen, and when I stumbled across the house via Architectural Digest and Sotherby’s real estate (up for sale for the at once ludicrous and yet absolutely deserved and dignified $43M) I fell into the world of late 20C New York interior design, and to be honest I would rather never retreat… Ahh, if only!
Only recently did I discover Auhaus, a small Australian architecture firm with a focus on finely crafted detail and a meticulous approach to materiality. In fact, they are so fussed about the details that they seem to be gradually developing their own range of interior elements; including lighting and door hardware. This practice’s interior spaces are so thoroughly thought through, and this is what fascinates me so about them.
Not that long ago I came across Studio John Irving Architect and was immediately impressed by their understated, yet somehow supremely confident design sensibilities. Waiheke Beach House is a great example of this – at once spacious, engaging, and subtle. Nothing about this space is boastful or showy, and yet I can’t help but feel jealous of the lucky people who get to call it theirs!
I’ve always appreciated the architecture of James Russell for their attention to detail and infinitely fine craftsmanship, as well as for their oft ingenious approach to the contemporary way of living. With an underlying focus on genuinely considering what one does and doesn’t really need from a Queenslander, the firm produce some wonderful examples of the contemporary verandah houses – those which Glenn Murcutt opened the world to back in the early days of world-class Australian Architecture. “A shelter can be as simple as a roof to shield the summer sun or a wall to protect from winter winds. The experiences derived from a building which allows you to interact with the environment, outweigh the occasional discomforts that may occur by not having “complete control” of the environment.” Of course, in designing houses which are at once inside and out, threshold spaces begin to take on a crucial role, and this is where James Russell Architect consistently prove themselves to be considerate, aware, and highly diligent designers.
This Thursday I will be doing a brief talk at The Architecture Foundation’s Annual Sponsor Event. The Architecture Foundation run the Parker Fellowship (previously the Eric Parker Travelling Scholarship, as it was known when I received the prize) and year after year go to the huge and wonderful effort of funding a travelling scholarship for one Newcastle University architecture student who shows great potential, interest and dedication. This award is about seeing, thinking and drawing, and literally changes lives. It is the most beautiful initiative, created in memory of Eric Parker, once a great influence in the Architecture Faculty of Newcastle University.
This April 1st at the Hotel Delany in Cooks Hill, Newcastle I will be doing a design talk to the public, [re]presenting my Final Year project. I will be followed by a bound to be revealing talk by EJE of Newcastle, who collaborated with Lyons Architects to design the winning entry for the proposed Newcastle City University campus. It should be a great night, so feel free to come along!
I have been struggling to make the decision as to which house I’d like to feature as the inaugural post of the House of the Month series. This is largely because I simply cannot narrow my many loved pieces of contemporary residential architecture to the point of one single favourite! It is rare, in fact, that I could name my favourite contemporary architecture firm at any moment in time, for I know that just around the corner – or just behind me – might be creeping some amazing until-this-point undiscovered design classic. But alas, we must start somewhere, and although I wanted to save an Owen & Vokes & Peters feature until later in the series, I just can’t get them out of my mind. So here we go!