The 2013 Houses Awards were presented at a gala event at the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in Melbourne on Thursday 25 July. Hosted by Houses magazine editor Katelin Butler and Architecture Media editorial director Cameron Bruhn, the celebration brought together leading architects and designers from around Australia for a cocktail party with peers, colleagues and clients. The generous awards supporters joined winners on stage to present the accolades (and $13,000 in prize money). Speaking on behalf of the 2013 Houses Awards jury, architect Peter Stutchbury spoke of the relationship between contemporary residential architecture and the ancient origins of shelter making.
The annual Houses Awards program rewards design excellence across eight categories, as well as naming an overall Australian House of the Year. In 2013, this top honour went to Bisley Place House by James Russell Architect, a house in suburban Brisbane that proposes an ambitious model for subtropical living. In awarding the project, the jury commented that “few architects would possess the courage even to accept this brief. Fewer still would have applied fresh thinking to produce such an arresting outcome.” This robust family home also won the New House over 200m2 category.
The award for New House under 200m2 was given to two intriguing buildings, one in a coastal hamlet on Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula and the other in the backyard of an existing house in Brisbane. Merricks Beach House by Kennedy Nolan Architects and Keperra House by A-CH captured the jury’s attention in a category that demonstrates the potential of climate-responsive, small-footprint architecture.
Finely crafted Sydney projects won both the alteration and addition categories. House Alteration and Addition under 200m2 was awarded to Tír na nÓg by Drew Heath Architects, the jury noting it as “a melding of sophistication and experimentation that challenges the traditions of inner-city living by replacing security and privacy with openness and spaces for sociability.”
Winning House Alteration and Addition over 200m2 is the Lilyfield Warehouse by Virginia Kerridge Architect. “This adaption of a disused warehouse resourcefully exploits the potential of the existing fabric to create a unique home with a sophisticated interplay of internal and external domestic space,” said the jury. The courtyard spaces of this project are integral to its success, and also earned it the Outdoor award; the jury noting that it “demonstrates the highest level of planning, spatial quality and detailing. It would be a delight to live in such a home.”
The award for Apartment, Unit or Townhouse went to the Pyrmont Apartment by Bokor Architecture + Interiors. In this moody interior, said the jury, “the play of light and shadow is reinforced with the careful arrangement of dark and light materials, which in turn also respond to the industrial aesthetic of the original building.”
Heritage is a category that recognizes projects at the juncture between contemporary life and places with heritage significance. In 2013, the jury gave the Heritage award to East Melbourne House by Zöe Geyer Architect, a project with “great optimism and joy.”
The Sustainability award went to a project in the tradition of modular buildings. In praising the Mihaus Studio, by Sue Harper Architects, the jury commented that “In a world where oversized has overtaken common sense, it is reassuring to see a commitment to the controlled use of resources in a residence that is aesthetically pleasing, easily assembled and flexible enough to accommodate a variety of circumstances.”
In addition to the awarded projects, twenty-one projects across all categories received High Commendations.
The jurors for the 2013 Houses Awards were Alice Hampson (Alice Hampson Architect), Jon Clements, (Jackson Clements Burrows Architects), Debbie Ryan (McBride Charles Ryan), Peter Stutchbury (Peter Stutchbury Architecture) and Katelin Butler (editor, Houses). Advising the jury in the Heritage category was Peter Williams (founding director, Williams Boag Architects).