Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Best Melbourne Things of the Year - Part 1 - The House

Don't forget my giveaway - ends today 16 December 2009

I thought I might do a post on my favourite Melbourne things of the year. Purely subjective and opinionated of course. But I have found so many things that I will have to do it in a few parts. I hope you will bear with me.

Part 1 is my favourite house. Now you may know that Australian residential architecture is having a lovely spot in the sun. Instead of architects dying to get out of residential and design The Iconic Cultural Global Significant Structure, it seems to me that many are finding their clever and innovative niche in residential architecture.

There is still a long way to go. To quote Christopher Moore from Houses magazine:

It has been estimated that approximately 3% of new homes built in Australia each year are designed by an architect. Imagine if the automotive industry sufferred such low rates of designer input into the finished product: the roads would be awarsh with poorly designed, ugly and inefficient cars that would be difficult to operate and unpleasant to look at - not to mention frightfully expensive. The parallel with residential construction in this country is obvious.

Of course architecture adds a cost to a project. And nothing against draftspeople but I do wonder sometimes if people actually value what the architect does. Based on years of working with and acting for architects, I believe that in Australia, architects have a serious image problem. Because they do not sell themselves properly, they don't explain how they can add value and in particular how something which looks beautiful can also help the environment, reduce running costs and add to one's enjoyment of life.

And while we are on statistics, apparently 50% of Australia's houses are located within 8 miles of a beach. Not sure I believe that one.

If I could make a criticism of modern Australian architecture it is that it can tend to a bland same-i-ness. Lots of glass, hard edges, angles and in Queensland in particular, wooden slats everywhere.

What this house has, in spades, is texture and warmth. And I am not the only one who loves it. This house, designed by Leeton Pointon Architects with Suzi Leeton Architects, won an award for Interior Architecture in the Victorian Chapter of the RAIA Awards in 2009.

So, from a fortress like exterior on a steep block:

You walk into a double height entrance with lots of wood:

Wonderful sculptural staircase:

Kitchen and living area (that rug is a Kilim patchwork from Loom in Prahran I suspect. Truly a rug after my own heart)

Look at that disguised aircon near the ceiling, theatrical curtains and suspended wooden ceiling.

A black wine cellar with just one chair for contemplation:

And an outdoor setting which looks neither cheap and Balinese nor French and wrought iron. And, one of my other little obsessions, and outdoor fire pit thing.

What do you think? Do architects help or hinder? Should we be more passionate about what they do?


Mise said...

I wonder whether it would look forbidding if the front door, with all its welcoming light, were closed? Not that forbidding is a bad thing, and those small windows/slats immediately say boiling oil to me, which is tremendous. And the interior is superb: not at all fussy and not at all bland, with plenty of room for sunlight to swirl. And in general I'm all for residential architecture and innovation, and one day will add an astonishing extension to my old house to prove it.

brismod said...

It is a shame that good design in residential architecture is not embraced so readily in Australia.
I adore the black wine cellar with single chair and enormous art work. Lovely.

Lee said...

Jane, fantastic example of what good architecture is all about. I think that residential architecture in Australia is incredibly under-rated by the Australian public. A friend is currently building in Williamstown and it has been amazing to see the impact that the architect has had on the shape and form of the building. Lee :)

Jacqueline @ HOME said...

Although I'm a traditionalist and love old houses, I can still appreciate this style of architecture, Jane.
To live with such clean lines must alleviate the cleaning problems BUT, I love my Victorian fireplaces and little bits of clutter.
I think that I am torn as I appreciate both.We can't live in the past and must produce a style of the new millenium.
A beautiful house and so aesthetically pleasing. XXXX

Laura said...

I love this...each piece is just so creative...I've never seen such an attractive air conditioning unit in my life! And that wine cellar is just about the sexiest space ever. I think the right architects always help...they make us pay more attention to the details which in the end make all the difference. but then the wrong architect can inflict pain on all involved...including those who have to look at their creations!

Millie said...

Perfectly put Jane. In many ways Aussie Architects have become their own worst enemies. I reckon their Professional body should employ you immediately as their PR Exec. We've only employed one in our time. All he seemed to do was wander around in a daze chanting 'Recto Linear, Recto Linear' a zillion times a day on site. 15 years later, we still get the heebie jeebies just talking about him!
Millie ^_^

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