Bisley Place House, designed by James Russell Architect, has been selected as the 2013 Houses Awards Australian House of the Year.
Every year, the awards recognise the best residential projects across eight categories, with Bisley Place taking home top honours. The project also was also named top dog in the New House over 200 square metres category.
The project, completed in 2012, is a family home located in Brisbane’s inner suburbs described by the jury as “an ambitious model for subtropical living.”
Jurors praised James Russell Architect for the firm’s daring, saying “few architects would possess the courage even to accept this brief. Fewer still would have applied fresh thinking to produce such an arresting outcome.”
Traditional houses built in the surrounding area are usually compact with small setbacks and open verandas that encourage the connection between interior spaces and the street, designed to take full advantage the southeast Queensland weather.
Bisley Place House features brickwork and concrete façades that, combined with adaptable glazing, walls and the existing landscape, allow the spaces to easily serve both internal and external uses.
The architects were tasked with incorporating the outdoors into the house’s indoor living spaces and with establishing a continuous circulation throughout all the spaces in the house.
The result is a house that allows its inhabitants to reshape and recreate their own space, manipulating doors, windows and curtains to blur the boundaries between internal and external space.
The front of the home can open itself right up to the street through four garage doors, two of which serving the purpose typically served by garage doors.
The other two provide access to the kitchen and dining area with large views across the green courtyard and playroom beyond, connecting the private and public spaces. A hidden lateral access single door can be used as a conventional entry when privacy is needed.
“A nostalgic homage to early postwar Queensland, the house recalls a time when new models for subtropical living embraced the essence and immediacy of the elements; utilized natural ventilation, sliding doors and curtains, imbuing a sense of living outdoors; and made climatic consciousness a pleasure rather than a necessary duty,” the jury said.
The perimeter of the house is surrounded by dense vegetation, both incorporating the exterior landscape and offering some privacy to its inhabitants.
The jury said the house offers a fresh take on the possibilities open to architects designing suburban Australian homes.
“Occasionally you come across a project that stops you in your tracks. This is such a house. Robust, yet firmly grounded in the pleasures of living, it challenges the orthodoxies of brick-on-slab construction, rejecting the conventional agenda of isolating each allotment from its neighbourhood,” the jury said.