2017 was a big year for us, but I am pretty sure 2018 will be bigger…
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 has been cold. I don’t know about you, but when the weather gets cold I just want to surround myself in rich colours; the thought of a white on white house makes me shiver (with cold, discontent, restlessness … etc.). Having said that, I think there are certain rooms that suit being wintery and snug all year, and others that work as lovely crisp, clarified spaces even in the cold. Part of this relates to the room’s use, and the other part relates to its aspect. A bright, white kitchen flooded in winter sun works. A deep, dark tv room tucked away from the blazing summer heat is a complete retreat. I am definitely one for colour eccentricity, and I think a house in many colours can be just as coherent as one that shuns them all. The most important thing is to make each colour suit its room and function, and after that, anything goes.
This month I can’t go past this colour. Winter is coming and I am longing for rich, sumptuous, dark rooms that have the ability to somehow both embody and yet defy the blustery, wintery cold. It’s the complexity and depth of this colour that makes it work so well in this way. While pure dark blues can feel cold and dark greens a little stifled and old fashioned, deep blue-greens are just perfect. The green edge warms them, making them feel cosy and enveloping, whilst the blue undertones lift them to a certain level of elegance. For this reason, teal is a much more flexible colour than either of its parts alone. It can sway between coastal, country, bohemian, or Parisian-chic. It has the ability to work within many spaces of all sorts of influences.
Donkey Brown is a reasonably loose shade – meaning that you can use it a bit lighter, a bit darker, a bit greyer, a bit more saturated, or as a perfectly medium tone depending on your space. I used a classic medium tone for my lounge room, but one with quite a lot of brown in it. I tried the more grey versions and they just didn’t give me that unctuous feeling I was after. Below are a few examples of colours worth experimenting with, and how they look once luxuriously lathered over walls.
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.
This month, because I can’t decide on one (and because I just came across the most amazing range of paints by Marston & Langinger) I’ve decided to feature a collection of colours.
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.
This month I decided to be really bold and feature … white! In one way it seems a bit inside out and backward to feature such a colour here – in a realm that is all about rich saturation, depth, and character – and yet in another it seems essential given white’s huge popularity and its vast array of subtle undertones that can be close to imperceptible to identify and therefore implement to the untrained eye. So here I feature cool white, if not purely as an exploration of just one side of white’s character. I’d say that there are at least several broad categories of white that I could deal with, but starting with this one just seems right on a warm, sunny, breezy October day like today.
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.
I’m not sure why it’s taken me quite so long to feature this colour; it is one of my personal favourites (you might recongnise it on this website!) and a wonderfully versatile shade. Eau de Nil is inherently restful and calming, evocative of the seaside, pristine springtime flowers, and fresh morning dew. It works with so many varying interior styles precisely because of this broad reference base. And despite its beautiful watery blue-green lustre, it really is almost a neutral, and so can sit comfortably as a backdrop to many interior settings. Furthermore, Eau de Nil is ractually more of a colour palette than an individual hue – ranging from fresh greens to watery blues – and can therefore be applied in any one of its incarnations as suited to your space.
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 month’s room of the week is the upper landing and hall of John B Murray’s Hudson Residence. This hall has an inherently subtle nature, relying on natural materials and views to the garden to enliven and decorate the space. The dappled light cast in shadows upon the floor describes the passing of the day, and in a more historical sense, the passage of time is conveyed by the aged timber furnishings within.
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!