2015 National Architecture Awards

New House Awards

There was a rediscovery of Australian inventiveness at the 2015 National Architecture Awards held in Brisbane on 5 November by the Australian Institute of Architects. In the highly contested housing categories, it was a crop of small, thoughtfully resolved, even community-minded projects by emerging architects that most impressed the judges.

The highest Australian prize for a single new house – the Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture – went to Planchonella House by the husband/wife team of Jesse Bennett Architect Builder and his interior designer wife Anne-Marie Campagnolo. Nestled within tropical rainforest on a mountain ridge in Cairns, the house is named after the flowering Planchonella trees that surround it.

The Australian Institute of Architects awards jury had this to say: “Here is an architect/builder/inventor and an interior innovator at their combined best. It has a consistency throughout, and its most persuasive attitude is its invention and directed playfulness. The house was not formed from a singular concept but from an evolving set of (often opposite) relationships: open to closed container, concrete upper to concrete lower slab, concrete to glass, timber framing to metal framing, air to solid, planar to curved. The house often appears raw because of the directness of its materials but it is highly sophisticated and inventive in its detailing. The combination is surprising and confident and it is this that sets this house apart.”

Other winners in Residential Architecture – Houses (New) category were:

  • Light House by Peter Stutchbury Architecture (NSW)
  • Sawmill House by Archier (Vic)
  • Villa Marittima, St Andrews Beach, by Robin Williams Architect (Vic)
  • Balmoral House by Clinton Murray + Polly Harbison (NSW).

Read more about Planchonella House and Light House in a residential architecture survey for Mezzanine design quarterly here.

2015 Robin Boyd Award winner, Planchonella House by  Jesse Bennett Architect Builder. Photo: Sean Fennessy.

Villa Marittima by Robin Williams Architect. Photo: Dean Bradley

In the Alterations and Additions category, the Eleanor Cullis-Hill Award went to Tower House in Melbourne by Andrew Maynard Architects. Conceived as village, with a series of five vertical buildings threaded across a large suburban block, Tower House redefines the landscape of house alterations with wit and a sense of giving back to the neighbourhood.

The jury said: “Inserted deftly into a suburban streetscape, the playful additions and alterations are a surprisingly comfortable and delightful fit. A distinctive character is revealed through a series of added pavilions, each possessing an apparently childlike silhouette of a house, each turning a low-scale and well-finished face to the southern neighbour. Inside they offer a well detailed and charming menagerie of domestic-scaled volumes, with no hint of disjuncture. It’s an absolute delight. 

This project demonstrates how the talents of the architect can deliver on a client’s ambition to be a positive influence in their community.”

Also receiving national awards for alterations and additions were:

  • Local House by MAKE Architecture (Vic)
  • Orama by Smart Design Studio (NSW)
  • Walter Street Terrace by David Boyle Architect (NSW).

Tower House by Andrew Maynard Architects. Photo: Peter Bennetts


thebarnTAS by workbylizandalex. Photo: Matt Sansom

A small, neglected barn in Hobart, refashioned into a home by a couple of young architects Liz Walsh and Alex Nielsen (workbylizandalex) has won the nation’s biggest honour for small works. #thebarnTAS won the 2015 Nicholas Murcutt Award for Small Project Architecture, as well as a National Heritage Award for demonstrating that less can be so much more in conserving and adapting buildings.

Impressed with the young architects’ ingenuity, the jury noted: “This is an excellent example of how the limits and challenges of heritage and conservation can encourage inventive solutions. Regulatory, technical and structural requirements have not been seen as impediments but rather as creative possibilities. The historic structure has been lovingly retained – even its original shingles have been scrupulously cleaned and now form a ceiling to the upper mezzanine bedroom.”

No other awards were made in the Small Projects category, but two projects received a National Commendation: LOVESTORY shop by MORQ (WA) and Moonlight Cabin by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects (Vic).


In the Multiple Housing category, the Frederick Romberg Award went to Upper House by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects (Vic), with a National Award going to Studios 54 by Hill Thalis Architecture + Urban Projects (NSW). The prize for Enduring Architecture went to Council House by Howlett & Bailey Architects (WA). See the full list of winners of the 2015 National Architecture Awards here.

Photography from top:
2015 Robin Boyd Award winner, Planchonella House by  Jesse Bennett Architect Builder. Photo: Sean Fennessy
Villa Marittima by Robin Williams Architect. Photo: Dean Bradley
Tower House by Andrew Maynard Architects. Photo: Peter Bennetts
Local House by MAKE Architecture. Photo: Peter Bennetts
thebarnTAS by workbylizandalex. Photo: Matt Sansom
Upper House by Jackson Clements Burrows Architects. Photo: John Gollings