Australia By Design Places Focus on Architects’ Use of Materials

Airing this month, the new television series Australia By Design aims to showcase some of Australia’s great architecture.

Series host Tim Horton believes architects have a duty of care to the environment when selecting the materials on a project. The show places a strong focus on the use of longer-lasting sustainable materials that take in careful consideration of our environment.

“The iconic Australian architect Harry Seidler was a tutor of mine at the University of Sydney. He would growl, ‘architecture is not a one-liner’. He’s right,” Horton said.

Horton added: “Good design lasts, and architecture has to last longest of all. In some parts of our cities, you’ll find styrofoam used for window sills. We’re becoming more careful about the materials we build with.

“Plastics are filling our oceans, and something like 40 per cent of our waste is from construction. This is madness!”.

Australia By Design believes the stigma around concrete as a brutalist material is being diminished as the material crops up more regularly in residential homes.

Queensland Government Architect Malcolm Middleton said concrete has always been a popular choice by architects because it acts similarly to a blank canvas: “Concrete has always had a niche indoor/outdoor role in architect-designed houses because of its ability to be formed and adapted to any design challenge, the durability and inherent strength of the material and its ability to present subtle and attractive finishes under different lighting conditions.”

One residential home that is a contender in the Australia By Design Victorian episode is known as Mexican Contemporary House, which is a residential project made entirely out of concrete.

Matthew Scully from Evolva Architecture took on the challenge to create a home that brings a burst of Mexican culture. Scully designed the house in the shape of a Mexican hat, using authentic Mexican concrete tiles in the pool area. Victorian Government Architect Jill Garner referred to this project as an “architectural surprise”, with reference to the extraordinary use of concrete.

Chief executive officer of Cement Concrete and Aggregates Australia Ken Slattery said the Mexican Contemporary House project worked superbly with concrete.

“The Mexican Contemporary House is a spectacular expression of concrete’s strength, durability and design flexibility,” Mr Slattery said.

Mexican Contemporary House has a cultural influence to give the owners a taste of their home country, Mexico.

A residential property featured in Australia By Design Queensland episode boasts a concrete home that is parked right on the foreshore. In 2A House, the benches are concrete, the exterior is concrete and the stairs are concrete made, and all cast on site.

“Concrete’s versatility and beauty is on display in this amazing home with almost all of the surfaces, including the bench tops, crafted from concrete,” Slattery said.

Alongside concrete, another material heavily involved in many of the winning architectural projects is steel—particularly Lysaght’s products. Lysaght is a principal sponsor of Australia By Design.

The Brisbane Ferry Wharf has a significant use of Lysaght’s “Longline” cladding. Lysaght worked closely with Cox Architecture architect Brendan Gaffney to help decide on the perfect sheeting that would cope with the river’s force.

Matt Lloyde, National Manager Marketing and Innovation of Lysaght said, “The combination of Longline’s concealed fastening method, and the choice of “Colorbond”ultra steel material for the roof sheeting, has delivered a finished project perfectly suited to withstanding the harsh environments on the river.”

The Brisbane Ferry Wharf has been redesigned to sustain the force of floods using Lysaght products.

Dunalley House in Tasmania also has Lysaght written all over it. The family watched their holiday beach home burn to the ground during the 2013 Dunalley bushfires. They decided to approach an architect with a keen eye for sustainability. Components of Lysaght’s “Klip-Lok” concealed fix-roofed cladding have been used for durability and watertightness.

“The concealed fastening method provides a roofing system without screw penetrations aiding watertightness and the ability to manage the water carrying capacity required of the low pitched roof,” said Lloyde.

Dunalley House in Tasmania is a ‘bunker’ style home in case a natural disaster like the bushfires occurred again.

Lastly, a project with Californian charm and heritage is Sydney’s “Breezeblock House” by Architect Prineas. The white-hued extension home has a quaint garden with lots of greenery.

Lysaght’s “Custom Orb” in Colorbond “Surfmist” has been implemented into this well-recognised Sydney project. “Custom Orb at home in both traditional and contemporary architecture, is perfectly suited to a project such as [the] Breezeblock House, a modern addition to a 1950s suburban home,” Lloyde said.

“Versatility across different architectural styles is evident in its application on this project,” added Lloyde.

Breezeblock House has used Lysaght products to bring versatility into the design.

Tim Horton claims more architects are caring about what materials they use, particularly in terms of sustainability and length of life.

“Concrete, steel and timber are like this continuous thread running through the projects we see. Solid, reliable, safe,” said Horton.

To see more about the projects in Australia By Design, tune in from Saturday, 15 July at 3pm on TEN.

Australia By Design air times:

  • Vic – Saturday 15 July
  • QLD – Saturday 22 July
  • NSW – Saturday 29 July
  • ACT – Saturday 5 August
  • SA – Saturday 12 August
  • TAS – Saturday 19 August
  • NT – Saturday 26 August
  • WA – Saturday 2 September
  • “Best of the best” – Saturday 9 September.

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