Designer Dwellings

Australian properties are enjoying a strong showing in this year’s World Architecture Festival awards. We shortlist five residential developments that give new meaning to the phrase “a man’s home is his castle”.
Entry Title: Davenport Wilson House
Architect: Shane Thompson Architects
Category: House – Completed Buildings
Designed as a dialogue with the landscape, the Davenport Wilson House perches on the rolling hills of a valley in lush Brookfield, just west of Brisbane. Having lived in an old 1940’s farmhouse on the property for several years, the clients have a deep appreciation for the sights, smells, sounds, and rhythm of nature in the area. They wished for a home that would allow them to “live in” the landscape. Consequently, the house is built so that it appears to rise from the land on masonry terraces. Its lightweight timber structure follows the tradition of the utilitarian buildings in the area.
The house is a study in sustainable living. Long, linear, and only one-room wide throughout with high ceilings, it affords excellent ventilation and great light penetration. Its flat roof allows rainwater to be harvested and all waste is treated on site. A slow combustion central fireplace provides adequate heating for the whole house during Brookfield’s mild winters.
The interior is mostly open-plan and celebrates shared social spaces. These lead to the more private areas comprising the children’s bedrooms in the north west and the master bedroom in the south east. Due to its perch on a slope, the house rises from a single storey in the north west to three storeys in the south east where a two-storey high window in the master bedroom gives breathtaking views of the lush green surroundings. 
Entry Title: Tower House
Architect: Andrew Maynard Architects
Category: House – Completed Buildings
If it takes a village to raise a child (or two), then Andrew Maynard has certainly got it right. The Tower House, designed for a family with a pair of eight-year-old twin boys, eschews the traditional monolithic residential design for multiple smaller structures that group together to resemble a medieval village or life-sized Monopoly houses. This anti-monolith was partly influenced by the built environment. With humble weatherboard and brick abodes as its neighbours, a large monolithic structure would seem like an imposition. The individual houses provide clear separation of various living spaces, but despite outward appearances, are actually interlinked within. Their different sizes are tailored to their functions.
The idea of a mini village within a suburban backyard is undeniably playful and that’s because the kids had a hand in it. During a design meeting with the client, the adults had given the boys some paper and pencils and told them to entertain themselves quietly. Instead of drawing dragons and cars, they drew their dream home. 
Perhaps as a reward, the children get to call the most unique building in the compound their own – an 8.3m tower that stands out for its height (it’s the tallest) and gave the development its name. The boys’ study desks are on ground level here, surrounded by a bookshelf that runs from floor to ceiling. A net, suspended about midway in the vertical space, acts as a nook for contemplation, gazing out onto the street below, or for hours of active fun. 
Entry Title: Casba
Architect: Billard Leece Partnership (BLP) and SJC Architects
Category: Mixed Use – Completed Buildings
Casba, a mixed use project by Cornerstone Property Group, is located in the prime real estate belt of Danks Street in the suburb of Waterloo, Sydney. Its proximity to the vibrant restaurant and cultural scene of the street made constructing a public link that leads through the site and connects its north and south an almost natural decision. As a result, the project is a study in the effective melding of public and private spaces. The retail spaces, cafes, and galleries in the ground floor of the Casba benefit from a constant flow of traffic while the residences on the higher floors continue to enjoy privacy and are protected from noise by the clever use of landscape barriers. 
The development is also the poster child of urban renewal projects. It stands on grounds once occupied by a two-storey warehouse and showroom. The old building has now been demolished, and its timber recycled and reused for parts of the new façade. Keeping the surrounding built environment in mind, masonry was used and metal accents added for a contemporary touch. A variety of one, two and three bedroom units caters to a diversity of needs and family sizes.  
Entry Title: Viking by Crown
Architect: MHN Design Union
Category: Housing – Completed Buildings
There’s no missing the bold multicoloured façade of this 10-storey property by MHN Design Union for leading Australian developer Crown Group. The architecture was inspired by Israeli artist Yaacov Agam, father of the post-war kinetic art movement and the visionary behind many ground breaking sculptures, paintings and architecture.
The location of this project certainly befits its artistic leanings. Situated in the suburb of Waterloo, within Sydney’s upcoming Green Square precinct, it is just a stone’s throw from Danks Street and the street’s many eclectic, creatively-inclined tenants. Its address on O’Dea Avenue couldn’t be more ideal – access to nature, entertainment and the CBD are close at hand.
Crown Group is known for its luxury residential developments providing resort-style living within urban environments and The Viking is no exception. Floor-to-ceiling glass windows provide panoramic views of the CBD and the lush Green Square precinct, while custom-built aluminium bi-fold louvres allow balconies to be entirely closed when privacy is required. A 25-metre swimming pool, well-equipped gym and retail spaces on the building’s ground level complete the luxury living experience. The one, two or three-bedroom apartments come fully air-conditioned, with spacious stone bench tops in the kitchen and European appliances.
Entry Title: Inner City Warehouse
Architect: Allen Jack + Cottier
Category: New and Old – Completed Buildings
Most homes have a feature wall; this 1060 sqm ex-food manufacturing facility turned residence, however, has a feature structure. It comes in the form of a sculptural carbon fibre pod very much resembling an alien blob that has materialised in the building’s upper floor – and it is this pod that gives the project its nickname, Mancave. It all seems a little space age-y and sci-fi-inspired, but is really a clever and experimental interpretation of cocooning. Within this white structure finished with semi-gloss resin-faced foam are the private quarters of the clients, comprising a bedroom and bathroom. 
In the bedroom, the bed, of the same material and all-white colour as the walls, appears to emerge from the vertical space. Leather-clad floor and the LED light that illuminates the base of the room add to the futuristic aesthetic here. The en suite bathroom is fitted with a skylight on the ceiling and enjoys natural light during the day. The shower, built-in vanity, freestanding basins and bathtub are supported by timber flooring similar to those used on yachts for better durability. The rest of the home takes on a more traditional style, with exposed rafters, red brick walls and wooden flooring giving it a warm, homey atmosphere.