Architecture of Elements

A glimpse into the awards

Thanks to the Australian Institute of Architects’ post-awards media tour this July, we had the chance to see inside two great houses at opposite ends of the size/cost scale: the 2015 Wilkinson Award-winning Light House by Peter Stutchbury Architecture and winner of the Roger Woodward for Small Project Architecture, Copper House, by TAKT Studio for Architecture.

Formed in concrete on a cliff in Dover Heights, Light House is part battleship, part bunker – built to withstand gravity-defying rain, seaspray and winds of near-cyclonic force. It’s an adult house of rooms and moods: the lower, public level is open and flows directly out to the sheer cliff’s edge. Upstairs are private compartments where the outside elements are tightly controlled, filtered through for comfort not splendour.

By contrast, the Copper House in Coogee steps up a narrow hill surrounded by garden, with the quiet presence of a Japanese teahouse or a Shinto shrine. From its side entry through sliding copper doors, it flows front to back finished with fine steel and timber to invite the touch.


The 2015 Award for Enduring Architecture went to Buhrich House II, by postwar immigrants Hugh and Eva Buhrich, who built it for themselves. It was the cover image of Karen McCartney’s book Iconic Australian Houses 50s 60s 70s.

The house is pure imagination, daring and craft, much of it made by hand including the wavey shiplap ceiling, red fibreglass bathroom and outdoor spiral staircase. It could never be built today, planners and parents are too fear-focused. But it proves that great architecture can be thrilling, and that it does endure.

Congratulations also to the other dedicated small-practice architects recognized at the 2015 NSW Architecture Awards: Drew Heath, David Boyle, Eoghan Lewis, Tribe Studio, Tropman & Tropman, Kennedy Associates, Chenchow Little, Scott Carver, Fox Johnston, Reg Lark, Clinton Murray + Polly Harbison. For the complete list of winners at the 2015 NS Architecture Awards, see

Photography from top:
Light House by Peter Stutchbury Architecture: Photo: © Michael Nicholson
Copper House by TAKT Studio for Architecture: 2015 Robert Woodward Award for Small Project Architecture. Photo: © Shantanu Starick
Buhrich House II: 2015 Enduring Architecture Award
Tempe House by Eoghan Lewis Architects: 2015 Small Project Commendation. Photo: © Roger D’Souza