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Building Design of the Year 2008

Kew House 2

Winner: Building Design of the Year 2008
Winner: Residential Design – New Homes $500K-$1M construction cost
Winner: Most Effective Use of Timber

Vibe Design Group Pty Ltd
1800 188 056
Robert Hamer

The Judges unanimously agreed that Kew House No 2 was the most outstanding entry in the 2008 BDAV Building Design Awards.

The client brief was for the development of two dwellings on a lot. The homes were required to command an individual presence within the streetscape, and stand alone as a single residence both physically and aesthetically when later sub-divided.

The designers have realised a project that demonstrates high levels of competency and skill. Located in the leafy inner city suburb of Kew overlooking Studley Park, the residence reads as an extension of the land form. Powerful imagery creates an outstanding example of symbolic and tectonic architecture.

The designers have challenged the viewer to re-evaluate their expectations as to what a residence should look like. They have designed a building using simple intersecting geometries, creating powerful visual tensions that generate a striking and sculptural form. The structure is not evident, yet the presence of the dominant cantilever establishes the character of the project.

Access and circulation has been carefully resolved providing multiple entry points, with the primary entry conceived as part of the landscape. Entry to the first floor is through a canyon of timber and copper, carved out from the formal geometry of the building.

The interior layout is minimal, efficient, well oriented and connected into the site contours through a series of level changes. The building wraps around a timber decked courtyard with a small swimming pool. Discretely fenced off with a transparent glass, the pool provides a splash of colour.

The use of a limited palette of materials both internally and externally shows controlled restraint and supports the essential design aesthetic. The use of Silvertop Ash timber linings as the exterior cladding is both bold and dramatic, contributing to the expression of the exterior.

The building's consistent narrative of context and form, expressed through geometry and tectonic strength, functional planning and materials palette, make it worthy of this year's major award.

The project also won the category of "Most Effective use of Timber". The designers have made good use of a steeply sloping site with a design that is not only practical, but breathtaking. Timber has been selected and used extensively throughout, from the front façade walls to the impressive entry stairwell. The Silvertop Ash, which is used to line the majority of the dwelling, will eventually fade to grey and blend with the surrounding gums and natural vegetation. The timber deck to the rear entertainment area and pool surround becomes a natural extension to the polished internal floorboards. Timber has provided a warm living experience, inside and out.