outdoor entertaining

Wanted: building designers

HIA’s Residential Building Designer award recognises the people behind the design. If you’ve got a worthy project, get in quick because entries for 2020 close 30 June.

Photo courtesy Marc Homes


Laura Valic

When it comes to building beautiful homes some things simply can’t happen without the other. Anyone in the business knows without a design you have no foundation for construction – and vice versa. 

HIA is all about acknowledging the quality workmanship that goes into constructing some of Australia’s most prestigious properties; we have dozens of awards that help to illustrate the expertise and ingenuity of those who bring these projects to life.

But a newer regional category is now on offer to HIA members and their associates involved in the conceptual phase of a building.

The Residential Building Designer award is for those responsible for the preparation of plans that best demonstrate design excellence. The category highlights the creativity and innovation of the industry professionals who envision a client’s dream home, and more often than not collaborates with the building team throughout the construction process to support it over the finish line.

Danny Giorgi from Marc Homes was the proud recipient of the 2019 award in Western Australia. The business operates with a studio of architects and builders who work together to create contemporary homes of uncompromising quality. A modernist style project in particular is a clear example, and turned out to be the ideal candidate to showcase what the team could do.

‘We felt that our home in Dianella, Perth represented a unique, designed-focused solution to the site,’ he says. ‘It addressed both orientation, and the use of ceiling heights and volume that enhanced the living spaces.’ 

charcoal brick and timber facade exterior
A custom brick face runs from the exterior indoors, its curves softening the coarseness of the material.
Photo courtesy Marc Homes
timber and grey kitchen
Polished concrete, masonry and crisp white render are juxtaposed against timber cladding and joinery. 
Photo courtesy Marc Homes

Marc Homes responded to the client brief for a growing family of five with a bold design that plays with proportion and light to cleverly zone the home’s private and public areas. A custom brick face runs from the exterior indoors, its curves softening the coarseness of the materiality.

Changes in ceiling levels combine with sunken floor levels and varying room sizes to shape and define the spaces. ‘Being a single-level home the focus on volume, light and connection to the outdoors was key in planning so that the home would feel larger than it really is,’ Danny says.

Durability was also a key request in the brief, so the materials were kept intentionally natural and complementary to modernist architectural cues. Polished concrete, masonry and crisp white render are juxtaposed against timber cladding and joinery. 

Large glass sliding doors open out to the entertaining area and backyard, while celestial windows and skylights filter soft diffused light and air throughout the internal areas of the home.

‘Entering this award we felt would recognise all these considered features,’ Danny says. ‘We were very proud to be recognised for what we hold in such high regard – good design.’  

He believes winning the award adds to the credibility of the business. ‘It reinforces our unique offering of an architect-designed custom built service to our clients,’ he says. ‘Providing them with something truly bespoke.’

fireplace living room
Changes in ceiling levels combine with sunken floor levels and varying room sizes to shape and define the spaces.
Photo courtesy Marc Homes
bedroom feature wall
The home won the 2019 HIA WA Residential Building Designer award for Marc Homes.
Photo courtesy Marc Homes

Sarah Lebner, principal architect at Light House Architecture & Science in Canberra, was the winner of the 2019 HIA ACT & Southern NSW Residential Building Designer award for a special project affectionately nicknamed the ‘Gingerbrick House’. The project perfectly suits the needs of its occupants and exemplifies a positive partnership between the clients and the designers.

‘We thought it was a great project to put forward in the HIA awards to celebrate that collaboration and show it can happen,’ Sarah says. 

The charming brick and corrugated iron home intentionally blends with the streetscape of Canberra’s inner suburbs – but its quirky interior is a true reflection of both the tastes of its homeowners and their desire to live in a home that will age along with them.

‘The client brief was unique,’ Sarah explains. ‘It had to operate across three different stages of life: firstly, with young children who want to be close to their parents in the living areas of the home; then with teenagers who need a bit more space of their own; and thirdly, to function as empty nesters, where they could rent out part of the home to supplement their income after the children moved out.’

brick home
The charming Gingerbrick House in inner Canberra won the 2019 HIA Residential Building Designer award.
Photo: Ben Wrigley
Light House Architects & Science
The project perfectly suits its homeowners and was a positive collaboration with the design and building team.
Photo: Ben Wrigley

Sarah’s plans morphed into three levels around that central idea. ‘The ground floor houses the kitchen and dining area, it’s where the hustle and bustle is so the design is bright, fun and sunny,’ she says. ‘The mid-level is more of a teenager’s space; it has the kids’ bedrooms and the main family lounge which can be separated for more private, focused activity. This area can be separately let as a unit down the track. 

‘The upper floor then forms the parents’ bedroom and bathroom, with an additional flexible space.’

The multi-disciplinary company employs building scientists, as well as architects, who simulate the energy efficiency performance of a home and help to fine tune a concept so that the orientation and other aspects are optimised right from the start.

‘All of that allows us to develop homes that perform extremely well even if they’re using fairly standard construction methods [and materials],’ Sarah says. ‘This home achieved an EER of eight stars so that means it is predicted to use 53 per cent less energy to heat and cool compared to a new standard six-star home of the same size.’

Of the win, Sarah and the team were thrilled. ‘We feel it’s important to recognise the value of design across all forums,’ she says. ‘It’s quite special to be recognised in an [environment] that is really for builders and by builders, and for the broader industry to celebrate every aspect of the industry.’

First available in all HIA regions in 2019, the category is open again to anyone with a well-designed home; no specific qualifications necessary. Fees have also been halved for 2020 entrants to assist members to continue entering their projects despite the COVID-19 downturn. Visit HIA's awards page for more information. 

brick home corrugated iron
The eight-star home is designed to age along with its homeowners.
Photo: Ben Wrigley
colourful wallpaper
The mid-level is for the whole family, including the kids’ bedrooms and the main family lounge which can be separated for more private, focused activity or be let out down the track.
Photo: Ben Wrigley

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