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Introducing The TDF + Laminex Design Awards 2021 Residential Architecture Finalists!

TDF Design Awards

The most-read content on The Design Files covers Australian homes, so it’s no surprise that Residential Architecture is the most popular category in our annual TDF + Laminex Design Awards!

In a year dominated by material shortages and project delays, it’s amazing to see so many projects not only being completed, but setting new standards of design excellence. 

As always, our judges (Aaron Peters, director of Vokes and Peters; Kerstin Thompson, principal of Kerstin Thompson Architects; and Tristan Wong, director of​ ​SJB’s Melbourne studio)​ struggled to whittle down the shortlist to just these 18 projects. Take a closer look at them below, and stay tuned for the winners announcement in September!

12th July, 2021

Photo – Tom Ross

Nielsen Jenkins, Mt Coot-Tha House

Mt Coot-Tha House by Nielsen Jenkins was completed for a family member of one of the architects, on an empty bushland block next to their shared childhood home in Brisbane.

Designed as a wedge that has lodged itself into the mountainside, the house wraps around a luscious green central courtyard, and provides both connection to and protection from the elements.

The project explores ideas of connection and refuge within a site characterised by its slope and extreme bushfire exposure.

Photos –Rory Gardiner

Archier, Corner House

Presenting as a solid fibre cement-clad volume to the street, Corner House by Archier references the board and batten detail of typical fishing cottages in its Flinders, Victoria location.

An experimental floor plan is revealed inside, with living areas positioned in each corner of the dwelling, connected by stepped walkways acting as gallery spaces. This layout accommodates a set of new routines for the clients as they settle into retirement, supporting strategies of occupation where two people could live together with equal parts connection and freedom.

The house and landscape mediate the relationship between the occupants, with each corner volume acting as an independent space, but with large windows that promote a visual connection between areas. The courtyard plays a crucial role in this gesture, filtering and softening views across the project.

Photos – Derek Swalwell

Architects EAT, Bellows House

A single row of mature poplar trees forms a soft foreground to what’s considered the main facade of this Flinders, Victoria house by Architects EAT. Trees cast morning shadows onto the white concrete masonry blocks, animating its long articulated form. Together with the unusual shapes of the frustum roofs, these evoke street engagements and curiosities.

Being a beach house where extended family and friends often gather, spaces have been designed to facilitate collective experiences: kids bunkering together; an open washroom that doubles as a mud room; multiple entry points into the house; and different indoor and outdoor living areas.

Photos – Derek Swalwell

Rob Kennon Architects, Elwood Bungalow

This Elwood, Victoria project by Rob Kennon Architects relies on the idea of subtracting space as much as adding it.

Occupying the former land of a rear garden, the renovation embodies a desire to turn away from the neighbouring walls, in favour of an inward dial plan that axially and infinitely looks onto itself.

The ‘addition’, a low-lying single-storey extension, builds square up-to all three rear boundaries and subtracts a circle garden out from the middle. The resulting form visually and functionally aligns with the family’s values of openness and connectedness.

Photos –Rory Gardiner

Studio Bright, 8 Yard House

Rather than a traditional house with a singular backyard, 8 Yard House by Studio Bright is distributed along the length of its North Fitzroy site, punctuated with a series of variously sized outdoor courtyards.

Across the whole site are eight outdoor spaces, the largest between the studio, garage and the main volume of the house. A central located pool becomes another landscape area either to use or look out across.

Overall, the architectural form is defined by an almost monumental brick construction detailed with perforations, rhythmic built-in columns and planter boxes.

Photos – David Chatfield

Furminger, River House

Furminger have repurposed an existing weatherboard Brisbane home through minimal intervention.

A primitive architectural intention was used to establish building and landscape through the metaphor of a ruin. The site was conceived as a large garden to hold program for daily activities. Heavy masonry walls intersect the site, carving out public and private courtyard gardens, creating new entries into rooms through garden spaces.

A strategy was developed to use concrete as cheaply as possible, using what many would consider commercial or industrial construction techniques. The entire structure was constructed from tilt up concrete panels, which were poured and stacked on site.

Photo – Tom Ferguson

Benn & Penna Architecture, Henley Clays

Henley Clays by Benn & Penna involves alterations and additions to a freestanding brick cottage in Sydney’s Lower North Shore. Additions are framed upon a heavy brick plinth that extends the sandstone base of the existing cottage, forming a series of landscape-inspired rooms that gently ascend through the home.

The material quality of the spaces is robust and earthy, with brickwork used throughout floors and walls. The mortar colour has been matched to the brickwork to amplify the monolithic and landscape like qualities of the project, while openings have been carefully arranged to puncture the building’s mass and wash its cave-like spaces with natural light.

Throughout the houses are gradually occurring level changes, encouraging the dweller to meander through the space. Steps between each level are used to demarcate the spaces, making them feel both intimate, while connected to the rest of the house.

Anthrosite, Hamilton Courtyard

This Newcastle project by Anthrosite presented the rare opportunity of converting two detached houses into one home. Instead of being pressured into market norms of maximising floor space, the clients were more concerned with creating a series of family spaces that felt connected to one another.

The result is a celebration of the courtyard; a generous central area that unites the wings of the house and promotes visibility, allowing the occupants to remain connected to each other even while engaged in individual tasks.

The importance of the courtyard’s role in the house is duly acknowledged with the main entry. An intimately scaled passage leads off the street, opening out not into the home but onto the private and calming courtyard garden.

Photos – Tom Ross. Styling – Jessica Lillico

Blair Smith Architecture, Brunswick Lean-To

This addition to a heritage listed cottage in Brunswick, Melbourne by Blair Smith Architecture showcases how homes can be enriched through modest architectural intervention.

The circa 1900 double-fronted cottage now sits alongside a new 51 square metre addition, achieving a high level of detail and finish, within a limited budget. This new building takes formal and programmatic cues from the dilapidated lean-to structure it replaces, while overcoming its shortcomings: a lack of aspect, awkward layout, and poor thermal performance.

The northern facade is divided into 11 modules characterised by three sliding timber screens on a single track. These screens have numerous purposes; they control heat gain, glare and offer an increased level of privacy to surrounding development.

Photo – Chris Warnes. Styling – Anna Delprat

Studio Prineas, Bona Vista

Bona Vista in Sydney’s inner-west reinterprets the characterful features of its Federation frontage, forging a warm domestic setting for family life.

In line with heritage guidelines, the council was highly prescriptive of the building envelope, forms and materials of the new addition. The architecture embraces the hip roof profile, while introducing an unconventional internal ceiling line; a surprising and memorable volume articulated by partially obscured skylights filtering natural light.

Studio Prineas have drawn a level change that once separated house and garden into the interior, forging a distinction between the old and new architecture, and connecting the new addition to the landscape.

Photos – Ben Hosking

Edition Office, Kyneton House

A refined palette of gracefully ageing, tactile materials defines this country house by Edition Office in Kyneton, Victoria.

The greatest inspiration for the project came from the client’s ambition to capture the passing of time through curated views of the garden, and white ceiling volumes that pick up the fluctuating levels of natural daylight.

The home’s deepened position within the site allows its relatively simple brick form to avoid feeling dominated by the garden, but instead wrapped and softly enveloped by it.

Photo – Anson Smart. Styling – Stanwix Studios

Fox Johnston, SRG House

This 1970s heritage-listed house originally owned by Sir Roy Grounds in Balmain, NSW has been reengineered for contemporary family life by Fox Johnston.

Keeping within the building footprint, Fox Johnston have carved extra space and forged stronger connections to landscape and place, while maintaining the integrity of the original structure and material language.

Interventions focused on restoring the superstructure; better connecting the home to the landscape; converting lower-ground space (previously housing an air-conditioning plant) into two bedrooms; replacing the ‘80s garage with a new structure and apartment for multigenerational living; and softening the geometry of the original grid design.

Photo – Dianna Snape

FMD Architects, Coopworth

Coopworth by FMD Architects is a contemporary interpretation of a country farmhouse nestled in the rural surrounds of Bruny Island, Tasmania.

The property’s sheep, wide-ranging views to the water and mountain ranges beyond, and weathering shacks dotted over the island, provide an ever-changing landscape with which the house converses.

The resulting footprint of the house is consciously constrained to maximise arable land, but with generous interiors facilitated by various gabled, hipped and skillion rooflines. Simple plywood linings and concrete floors draw focus to this ceiling, which features wool sourced from the property, adding to its thermal performance.

Photos – Dion Robeson. Styling – Janet Keating and Amy Collins Walker

Nic Brunsdon, East Fremantle House

East Fremantle House by Nic Brunsdon is a contextually responsive addition to a heritage cottage.

Most important to the project is the space that’s not built – a large northern void – a space for light, sound, and breeze to inhabit. The house traces the void’s edge, providing constant connections to nature.

Once a dark period home with ‘60s additions and asbestos sheds at the rear, the home is now arranged as four interconnected sections: the existing brick cottage, an entry link, a ground floor addition, and first floor addition.

The living room is a ‘garden room’ lined with sliding north-facing doors, allowing the space to cleverly spill outdoors and occupy the full width of the site.

Photos – Martina Gemmola. Styling – Ruth Welsby

Wowowa, Pony

Pony is an agile alteration and modest addition to a 1960s apricot brick home in Brighton East, Victoria.

Wowowa devised a reworking of the original home, alongside an agile new extension. This extension adopts a simple, linear form that slides against the existing volume to run lengthways down the block. The focal point of this new structure or ‘colonnade’ is the roof, which takes design cues from the nearby beach to feature cladding and construction methodology akin to a boat with a keel, bow and stern.

A dessert-inspired interior colour palette draws on the client’s mid-century furniture, and allows a smiling eye to whimsically dance around the home.

Photo – Ben Hosking

Wiesebrock Architecture, Bellbrae House

The brief of this Bellbrae, Victoria home called for sustainable design measures and a flexible floor plan suitable for regular guests.

Two pavilions were created by Wiesebrock Architecture in response, comprising the primary house and a guest pavilion. In between the two pavilions is a large outdoor deck covered with polycarbonate roofing.

Aesthetically, the new house draws on the couple and architect’s love of old farm sheds. Durable, low-maintenance, corrugated and galvanised steel sheeting features on the exterior, while the warm interior references classic shearing sheds.

Photos – Katherine Lu. Styling – Koskela

Curious Practice, Lambton House

The small 55 square metre footprint of this new, suburban four-bedroom home by Curious Practice maximises landscaped areas on its Newcastle, NSW site.

Carefully considering the unique five-way intersection of mixed residential and commercial buildings it addresses, the house performs simple gestures to maximise its relationship to context, both neighbouring and public.

A step-down in level from entry to living areas creates a seat at garden level and combined with a generous window injects light and air, while engaging with passersby. This public gesture is continued through an extension of the green streetscape through fences and canopies designed for verdant consumption of the building over time.

Photos –Derek Swalwell. Styling – Simone Haag

Austin Maynard Architects, Garden House

By nature of its inner-city Melbourne location and by design, Garden House by Austin Maynard Architects belies its size and scale.

At street-view, the shingled, simple and domestic scale garage appears to be the house in its entirety. Walk down the side pedestrian alleyway however, and the main front door opens up to reveal a much bigger property, comprising four distinct elements appearing as separate buildings. These buildings are ‘invisibly’ connected via mirrored glass corridors, reflective of the property’s well-established garden.

This high-performing, high-tech, inner-city Melbourne oasis produces 100kwh per day and has a 26kwh Tesla battery.

The Design Files + Laminex Design Awards 2021 Residential Architecture award is presented by COLORBOND® steel.

COLORBOND® steel is one of Australia’s most loved building products, producing coated steel products for more than 50 years. Their coating technology offers exceptional performance with resistance to chipping and cracking, creating highly durable roof and wall cladding materials.

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The Design Files acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the lands on which we work, the Wurundjeri people of the Kulin Nation. We pay our respects to Elders past and present.

First Nations artists, designers, makers, and creative business owners are encouraged to submit their projects for coverage on The Design Files. Please email bea@thedesignfiles.net