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BDAV 2013 Building Design Awards

The Eyrie

Winner Residential Design - Alterations & Additions over $500K construction cost

Designer:Vibe Design Group Pty LtdBuilder:Icon Synergy
Phone:1800 188 056 Photographer:Young & Percival
Web:www.vibedesign.com.au 

A difficult brief has resulted in this surprising project which challenges accepted tenets of ‘good design’. A large, ungainly and incomplete house has been transformed into a finely detailed contemporary home for a family and an extensive collection of indigenous art. The seventy square structure included an unfinished indoor pool, an ugly stair and excessively large non-functional spaces which had been designed without any consideration of energy efficiency principles. A further requirement of the brief was for the house to appear as the grand home of the local squire of earlier days. The result appears as a large building of French neo-classical origin which has undergone extensive alterations.

The challenge presented by this building is the irony of fabricating history by constructing a building of neo-classical appearance and then altering it in a contemporary manner. However, once one has recovered from the shock of such tenets of ‘good design’ being blatantly flouted, one can see how skilfully the designer has responded to the brief, and why this project is worthy of this award.

Confusing? Yes, a little. The facade presents as an upmarket art gallery or retail establishment. At the rear it is as if an old public building has been cut away in places to reveal a sleek black Alucobond clad core. There is, however, beauty in the contrast of ornate detail and minimalism. Further audacious contrast occurs where an ugly outbuilding has been replaced with a monolithic black Alucobond garage with an undulating wall connecting it to the façade and a sharply angled edge pointing to the tennis court. Wrought iron entry gates are a pleasingly modern interpretation of a classical design.

Internally the aesthetic is exquisitely contemporary. The designer has used period type detailing only where it makes a positive contribution; again, contrast is the byword, with heavily moulded entry doors set into an expansive shopfront-like wall of glass. A once cumbersome stair has been transformed through expertly crafted plaster and the introduction of a curving screen wall of vertical timber battens. A restrained but luxurious palette of materials and finishes runs throughout, punctuated by striking elements such as the ‘media wall’ and bar splashback of black glass.

A project of this type could so easily have failed. That it has not is testament to the designer's skill and creative vision.