We kick off our year in review by shining a spotlight on our five most-read Australian home features in 2021.
We’re commencing our annual Best of est series with a wrap of the most popular homes on our fair shores. From a revived 1880s mansion in Melbourne’s St Kilda to a home ‘designed through rose-coloured’ glasses in Bronte, these are the five homes that defined the year 2021 in Australian residential design.
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Kyneton House by Edition Office
The Kyneton House by Edition Office, located in the Macedon Ranges region of Victoria, was one of the most-loved Australian homes across our est living platforms in 2021. The home encompasses a rustic aesthetic that seamlessly blends with the existing heritage architecture of the old town.
A tactile palette of recycled brick, pale low-carbon concrete, and galvanised steel roofing allows the natural world outside to breathe life through its rooms, while high lofted ceilings cast a sense of infinite space in the large open-plan living and kitchen space. The garden that circles the property is inhabited by trees relocated from the clients’ former rural home and is an ever-present ode to seasonal change.
There’s also no air conditioning or mechanical cooling; instead, the house relies on the environment around it to nurture its internal state. Edition Office’s considered approach has rightfully earned Kyneton House a place in our Best of est for 2021 – a home where its clients can observe the cyclical nature of the environment during the autumnal years of their lives.
St Huberts by Robson Rak
It’s not surprising that Robson Rak’s reimagining of a grand 1880s Victorian mansion in St Kilda made it into our top Australian homes of the year. Robson Rak blew away the cobwebs of time, resurrecting the home as the mansion it was once conceived to be, with a newfound focus on present-day living.
One of the core elements of the client brief was that the house “must be great to live in and great to entertain in.” With this in mind, Robson Rak reinstated an internal staircase and removed the two external staircases that originally provided access to the apartments. Existing features of the house were mostly retained and restored, such as the grand marble fireplaces, ornate Victorian cornices, arches, and decorative ceilings. Most of the existing features of the house were retained and restored, including the grand marble fireplaces, ornate Victorian cornices, arches, and decorative ceilings.
Robson Rak’s St Huberts home demonstrates how period architecture can successfully support 21st-century living by intentionally balancing aesthetic with austerity and design clarity.
La Casa Rosa by Luigi Rosselli and Arent&Pyke
This year another standout home that made its way into our best Australian homes is La Casa Rosa, a collaboration between Luigi Rosselli Architects and Arent&Pyke. Playfully nicknamed ‘La Casa Rosa’ after principal Luigi Rosselli’s favourite childhood Italian holiday villa, the rose-coloured Gothic Revival cottage in Bronte has a newfound focus on sustainable living, manifesting comfortable and inviting spaces to grow in.
Most of the home’s Gothic Revival style features were still intact, including the ornate lacework, fretwork, intricate plaster detailing and elaborate timberwork. The architects made no structural changes to the original home. Instead, they focused on the rear addition, ensuring it remained in proportion with the original home.
Clad in dusty pink concrete, this new addition features a unique Brise Soleil screen derived from the original terracotta roof tiles, subtly revealing itself in the facade and wrapping itself around the home’s first level.
8 Yard House by Studio Bright
The 8 Yard House by Studio Bright in Fitzroy took out the prestigious Harold Desbrowe-Annear Award from the Australian Institute of Architects (Victorian Chapter) this year for its planning and clever orientation around eight different, integrated outdoor spaces.
Studio Bright needed to consider the heritage streetscape, its many period Victorian homes, and the relatively narrow site (11 by 50 metres) when redesigning this family home. So the former cream brick 1930s house was demolished, and the cream bricks were recycled to form the contemporary home, complete with bagged and limewashed perforated walls to the street.
Instead of simply creating a large glazed pavilion to a rear garden, Studio Bright designed a series of outdoor garden rooms, each one thoughtfully aligned to the living areas. One of these outdoor rooms includes a swimming pool, another one has a built-in barbeque, while another outdoor space has a dining table near the kitchen and is perfect for alfresco dining. Unlike most houses with a clear ‘front’ and a ‘back’, the 8 Yard House offers a series of glimpses through a sequence of garden walls.
May’s Point House by Tanner Architects
The breathtaking May’s Point House by Tanner Architects concludes our lineup of best Australian homes of the year. The low-slung house, with broad eaves, is perched on an escarpment overlooking Frederick Henry Bay and is constructed in in-situ concrete and generous glazing.
To accentuate the landscape, Tanner Architects created a series of moody and sombre spaces. While the focus is towards a concrete hearth in the living room during the colder months of the year, the generous glazing on either side of the dining and living areas allows the outdoor terrace, with its stone fireplace, to be used as an outdoor room during the warmer months of the year.
This idyllic coastal location appears to be in a remote part of Tasmania, but it’s only a 25-minute drive from Hobart. The unusual cobbled terrace and rough recycled sawn timber benches, circa 1860s, also bring a sense of the past to this magical home; so close to Hobart but in a world of its own.