A monumental new house in the bushy reaches of Sydney’s Castle Cove has been named the best-completed house in the first day’s judging of the 2019 World Architecture Festival which started on Wednesday in Amsterdam.
In this annual forum that gathers thousands of international architects, the single house win is one of the most prestigious of all the awards.
It’s a career-defining, global break out accolade – and Chris Rogers of Terroir has just joined the club that scores of Australian architects have been trying to get in to for years.
His Castle Cove House is nestled in the steep sandstone terrain of the inner harbour. It is heavy-form concrete, but its shape mimics a natural topography – the practice compares it to “a strange object unearthed”.
The jury at the WAF that picked it out from the 14 other shortlisted completed house entries – six from Australia – decided that “what initially seems to be a simple integration of house into landscape is so much more.
“With the diversity and complexity of space, there is a visual shattering of boundaries between inside and out. The use of well-tested ‘architectural instruments and tools’ define and punctuate the concept. A rigorous process of thought and organically responsive design enriches the functionality with the poetic”.
The punchline of their judgement was the banker: “The moments of joy just keep coming.”
With interiors co-designed by Sydney practice Pascale Gomes-McNabb Design, the geological allusions of an amazing private home continue inside where light punctuation can sometimes seem as if it’s coming into a cave from some rock fissure.
But refinement and warmth are everywhere too, in timbered spaces and functional features that are always original, and always another part of a large but comfortable house that has just been anointed as one for the ages.
A structure of such unique, responsive, and yes “poetic” complexity sits perfectly well in the broad portfolio of Terroir, a practice that was started only 20 years by a group of Tasmanian architect friends and urban designers who never lost their original charter of risk-taking.
Terroir now has 25 staff, offices in Sydney and more recently have opened one in Copenhagen.
This new prize is another big award for the practice this year as it won the Chicago Athenaeum Award for the extraordinary Penguin Parade building on Victoria’s Phillip Island. That’s another accolade that aspiring architects are thrilled to receive.
With the sublime Castle Cove House, however, there is an odd anomaly: In the 2019 NSW Architecture Awards, it earned only a commendation.
The WAF’s international judges have just spectacularly redressed that oversight.