21 September 2016

what's worth saving?

Sad to hear that this building is slated for demolition, as I recall it well, having spend a good part of my late teens and early twenties crossing the Harbour bridge passing it.

Brutalist styling isn't for everyone, but Ive always been impressed by how simple the actual design is and how it's modular nature informed a facade that managed to blend into the surrounding streetscape. Maybe it's because I'd seen it for so long that it never felt an imposition which is so often the characterisation of Brutalist buildings, but it's a simple form that's articulated really well in my eyes.

images from:



19 September 2016


Love the form of this building - The Midden Garden Pavilion / Metropolis Design

such an elegant simple form 

floating yet still anchored to the ground

harbouring sanctuary

beauty in the detail

images via: 

03 December 2014

sustainable awards

Found this link recently, and was pleased to see an under-funded group receiving some recognition, albeit in the form of an award by a multi-national...but better than not I guess?

2014 Holcim Awards for Sustainable Construction


Great looking project in Sri Lanka working at re-skilling ex soldiers to do positive community building projects, designed by an Australian trained local I believe.

17 November 2014


I've been off air for some time...studying architecture and becoming a father have been great learning curves. 
In the interim, I've been watching, experiencing, growing...... 

adaptive reuse in action
a new cubby house - lasted 18 months and then recycled

I'd like to share a recent comment I came across, by Jonathon Ive - head designer for Apple, http://www.dezeen.com/2014/11/13/design-education-tragic-says-jonathan-ive-apple/

Avoiding his criticism on the state of design skills in the world today, due in part to the tendency of education to be driven by computer based designing rather than the physical ability to make an item, I picked up on a couple of interesting points....

"It's made it better. There's integrity there. You hope that people can tell the difference."

I pride myself on our integrity, both in workmanship but in attempting to be transparent in our costings. For most people, it's the biggest investment they will make in their lives...surely you'd like to know how the money is being spent...is it on a thoughtfully designed well-built home, or on a house that will need repairs and maintenance sooner than later due to poor material and design choices?

"The sad thing is that so much of what we're surrounded by in the physical world that is a product of manufacture, so much of it testifies to carelessness. The one good thing about that is if you do care it is really conspicuous."

I feel that our work stands out as unique and considered....rare in this homogenous world. Not purely to create a statement, but because there are better ways to do things than just reproducing what's been done before...and because when we design we consider the best way to make our home's last...be it site position, design detailing, material choice, or purely how we install. It's an all encompassing regime.

The detail is in the design...considered from the very beginning. 
We care about what we do, and it shows....

the spill of light - from the overlay of stair landings above
not just a coincidence

05 March 2012


a short statement I encountered recently by 2012 Pritzker Award winner Wang Shu:

"Design Philosophy

I design a house instead of a building. The house is the amateur architecture approach to the infinitely spontaneous order.
Built spontaneously, illegally and temporarily, amateur architecture is equal to professional architecture. But amateur architecture is just not significant.

One problem of professional architecture is, that it thinks too much of a building. A house, which is close to our simple and trivial life, is more fundamental than architecture. Before becoming an architect, I was only a literati. Architecture is part time work to me. For one place, humanity is more important than architecture while simple handicraft is more important than technology.
The attitude of amateur architecture, - though first of all being an attitude towards a critical experimental building process -, can have more entire and fundamental meaning than professional architecture. For me, any building activity without comprehensive thoughtfulness will be insignificant."

I love the nature of "spontaneity" in design...creation which is in the moment

such a shame that so much design
and construction today is based on dollar value, energy consumed and saved and the like...

Wang's modesty in saying " amateur architecture is just not significant" belies the true value of simple creative spirit in homes.

How do you "value" creative input?

Can a feeling be given a tangible value?

14 January 2012


We recently completed a new home.
Designed by myself in conjunction with the owners, it was an interesting study in renovations

The site is heavily overlooked by all the houses around it due to being the lowest site in the street. Everyone could look into the backyard and the existing house was very small - one bedroom effectively so there was nowhere to escape the streetscape and neighbours.

Paramount was to create comfortable living areas that gave northerly sunny aspect, yet reduced the opportunity for the neighbours and passers-by to look into the house.
We aimed to create a separation between the original and new sections of the house so it could become a separate section for visiting family and their kids and the new living/ kitchen/dining area and master bedroom.

The new dwelling has a beautiful ambience, with a sense of privacy that will only be enhanced by the plantings once they grow to screening height. Light, playful and open, with a spacious courtyard garden allowing interaction with the outdoors.

Open plan living with large functional spaces that interact

Courtyard garden
A rammed earth thermal wall forms a strong bond with the ground, 
contrasting to the lightness of the flowing decks. 
The formal separation between garden and house is blurred,  
by the juxtaposition of the deck floating over the lawn. 
The subtle connection through a winding set of steps to the grove of native plants 
has aided the division between the site and the neighbouring houses which overlook.

Master bedroom
Cladding in local tallowood helps to reflect the beach side tones
of the site, silvering over time to a hue seen in the endemic flora.

Rammed Earth feature wall; a quietening presence
bonding the house to the site. 
Massive and monolithic, jutting out of the natural landscape;
anchoring the house's volume akin to the surrounding dunes

Playful joinery -  a custom made double bunk bed

Light, private bedroom

Key to the design was to create private spaces with framed views rather than large expanses of glass. This has allowed privacy to be retained whilst giving "picture" views throughout the house. Cross ventilation is enhanced through carefully placed, selective use of tall narrow louvres.  

Dining to Kitchen view - monolithic rammed earth wall, 
custom heavy timber "floating" joinery on the wall. 
The contrast between simple palettes enhances the connection 
between dwelling and site.

28 August 2011


we have been very fortunate to have help from a family of amazing joiners - the Turners
always willing to help
always full of life and good humour

boat builders
traditional heavy timber framers
ecologists in the real word

they have my utmost respect and love

andrew created the amazing traditional japanese joinery in the salvaged oregon beam structure that supports our main bedroom.
mortise and tenoned, spline joints
dove tail was my little addition to his craftsmanship

i learnt so much working alongside andrew.
his oldest son Rye is an accomplished luthier as well

much respect

a nice aside is that the beams are 300x150mm and average 7.2m long.
they were 15 m long when pulled out of the old army warehouse in sydney!
I love the contrast of a strong structural element against the simple white palette.

images by:
claudia gabriel lim