AAA Sunshine Coast Tour Takes Place August

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Don't miss out on securing your tickets for one of the Australian Architecture Association's most popular tours - the AAA Sunshine Coast Residential Coach Tour.

Taking place Saturday 17 August, this years tour promises to provide another fascinating insight into the latest contemporary home design in Queensland.

Once again the Australian Architecture Association will showcase the work of the latest upcoming Queensland architects, along with past tour favourites, such as Bark Design ArchitectsRobinson Architects and John Mainwaring.


Date: Saturday 17 August 2019
Time: 9.30am - 5.45pm
Tickets: $205 (public) / $190 (AAA Members)

A full lunch is provided on the day of the bus tour.

The AAA recommends you book your accommodation in Noosa and flights early. When arranging departures - The AAA recommends that you book an evening flight on Sunday so you'll have time to explore the delights of the region.

Numbers are limited, so book now!

Click here to secure your place on the tour.

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  • Article: Vanessa Couzens
  • Images 1 & 2: 'Seaview II' Sunshine Beach QLD, designed by Bark Architects (Image source: Bark Architects)

In March - 'At Home' Visits Castlecrag

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On Sunday 31 March 'At Home' visits the 'Sugarloaf House' in Castlecrag, designed by Ellen Woolley Architects.

Designed for a family and their menagerie of pets, the Castlecrag home has been carefully designed to work to the contraints of the sites challenging topography and surrounding environment.

It sits on a narrow platform, between two close coupled cliffs front and back, and is further penned in on both sides by long large houses. The first cliff is just behind the front street boundary. The second cliff, to their rear garden and beyond, is to the bushland. This communal backyard slips down to a small creek and onto Harold Reid Reserve’s stunning lower north shore ecology. In the centre of their garden sits a monumental Angophora, surrounded by the daily work of the owner, a local bee keeper.

The house pursues a civic social purpose. From the public street front it breaks the previously continuous street frontage wall twice

First it offers both a green plateau (roof garden) that reveals Harold Reid’s bushland. Second it carves out a central void down to the sandstone bedrock heart that is the narrow platform the house sits on, allowing the passer-by to connect from the earth, to the framed Angophora beyond and up to the sky through the house’s heart. This can be screened at the owners’ discretion for greater privacy.

So there is a spatial flow created through the heart of the home, onto its natural bedrock base and out to the bushland. This does two things. It directly connects us to the natural context, but it also allows for central ‘landscape room’ focus with the house being able to ‘turn its back’ to the two side boundaries and create a private light filled oasis for every inhabited room (bar the ‘bee’ one that necessitates complete removal). And so whilst the house on one hand is centexturally responsible, it has concurrently a very intimate and private interior. These co-exiting intents unite in the aim to ameliorate and even improve our interference with nature and tries to better connect us to this remarkable ecology and landscape in a more mindful way.

The construction is essentially two giant ‘esky’ pavilions (polyisocyanurate) clad in long life thermal mass (concrete), with literally the bedrock earth in the middle. The stair folds, like filigree, across this void.


Ellen Woolley established her private practice, Ellen Woolley Architects in the early 2000s. The small studio, operating out of Castlecrag, specialises in residential architecture.

Their projects are often found on challenging sites, working with bushfire, extreme topographies, environmental conservation, sustainability and heritage.

The practices portfolio of single homes and alterations and additions, has been recognised through industry awards and has been featured in published anthologies on Australian Architecture and digital publications.

Ellen is also an active member of the Australian architecture community, taking part as a juror in NSW Institute of Architecture awards and as a writer about architects and architecture in publications such as ArchitectureNow.


Location: Castlecrag NSW
Please note that the address and meeting point will only be forwarded to ticket holders in the days immediately before the tour.
Time: 11.00am - 12.00pm
Date: Sunday 31 March 2019
Tickets: $35 (Early Bird) / $45 (Public) / $30 (AAA Members)

Don't miss your opportunity to experience this privately owned residence, numbers are limited. Book your place on the tour, click here.

  • Article: Annette Dearing & Vanessa Couzens
  • Images: Sugarloaf House, designed by Ellen Woolley Architects
  • Photographer: Vanessa Couzens

First 'At Home' Event For 2019 Visits Northbridge

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On Sunday 3 March 'At Home' returns for 2019 and visits a home in Northbridge, designed by Marston Architects.

Designed for a growing family, the contemporary addition and renovation to a single storey home enjoys vistas of surrounding bushland and an existing established garden.

Openings on the new upper level frame views and the soft colour palette, along with the accents of dark tones and the timber framed doors, allows the house to sit comfortably in its bush surrounds.

A skylight in the new stair void allows light to filter through the three levels of circulation within the core of the house.

Architect Vivianne Marston will talk about the design process as you are guided through the residence.


Marston Architects is a small Manly based studio set up by Vivianne Marston in 1985.

The practices portfolio of work has been widely published and includes single homes, alterations and additions, multi-unit residential and commercial buildings.

The work of Marston Architects is very focused on responding to specific sites as well as the needs of the clients and the building's context to its' surroundings.


Location: Northbridge NSW
Please note that the address and meeting point will only be forwarded to ticket holders in the days immediately before the tour.
Time: 11.00am - 12.00pm
Date: Sunday 3 March 2019
Tickets: $35 (Early Bird) / $45 (Public) / $30 (AAA Members)

Don't miss your opportunity to experience this privately owned residence, numbers are limited.

Click here to book your place on the tour.

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  • Article: Annette Dearing & Vanessa Couzens
  • Images: Northbridge House, designed by Marston Architects (images supplied by Marston Architects)

AAA Partnering in Sydney Design Festival 2019

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It's time to celebrate all things creative with the annual Sydney Design Festival 2019. Taking place 1-10 March, the Australian Architecture Association (AAA) is once again partnering in the festival. Join one of our special tours taking place during the festival:

  • The Sydney Observatory Tour, and
  • AAA Ultimo Walk


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Experience a unique architectural tour developed in association with MAAS (the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences). AAA trained volunteer tour guides will help you to discover Sydney Observatory, a significant historic site in Millers Point, The Rocks.

Built in 1858, Sydney Observatory is one of the most significant sites in the nation’s scientific history. It is recognised as an item of ‘state significance’ by the New South Wales Government and is heritage listed.

Beginning as the centre of scientific research for the colony of New South Wales, the Observatory has a seminal role in the history of timekeeping, meteorology, navigation and astronomy in Australia.

Now known as Observatory Hill, the site was previously known as Windmill Hill, Citadel Hill, Fort Phillip and Flagstaff Hill. Each name indicates the site’s function over time, all of which relied on it being the highest point over Sydney Harbour.

The Observatory buildings, built from stone with distinctive copper telescope domes, were built between 1857 and 1859 in the Italianate style. They combined the practical needs of an observatory with those of an astronomer’s residence. The Observatory grounds recreate the original layout and vegetation of formal gardens cultivated in the 1880s.


Sydney Design - Architectural tour of Sydney Observatory. Presented by the Australian Architecture Association in partnership with Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences (MAAS).

Location: Sydney Observatory, 1003 Upper Fort St, Millers Point NSW
Tour 1: 11.00am - 12.30pm
Tour 2: 1.30pm - 3.00pm
Date: Sunday 3 March 2019
Tickets: $30 (Adult) / $25 (Concession) / $25 (MAAS or AAA Member)

Click here to book your tickets.

Accessibility: Please note there is no wheelchair access to many of the Sydney Observatory spaces due to narrow and steep staircases in the heritage-listed buildings.  Strollers must be cloaked on arrival.


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Want to know more about the history of the area surrounding the Powerhouse Museum? Explore architecture and history on the AAA Ultimo Walk.

Colonial settlement of the inner city urban village of Ultimo began in 1803, when 34 acres was granted to surgeon, John Harris, on lands traditionally inhabited by the Gadigal clan of the Eora nation.

Harris built a grand two storey residence on the property (demolished in 1932) called Ultimo House. Ultimo House remained one of the colony's premier addresses well into the 1890s, while it's surroundings became increasingly industrial in nature including slaughterhouses, rental properties and quarrying operations.

In the 1890s Sydney Technical College was established - putting Ultimo on the cultural map. Twentieth and twenty-first century additions of educational buildings have reinforced Ultimo's reputation as a centre for learning.

Over the two hour walk you'll discover some of the suburbs architectural gems and open spaces, including the Ian Thorpe Aquatic Centre, Sydney Technical College (TAFE NSW Sydney Institute), the Powerhouse Museum, and the Goods Line.


The Ultimo Walk was developed by the Australian Architecture Association.

Location: Powerhouse Museum Forecourt, 500 Harris Street, Ultimo NSW 2007
Time: 10.00am - 11.30am
Date: Saturday 9 March 2019
Tickets: Adult $30 / Senior, Student & MAAS Members $25 (ID required to join the walk) / AAA Members Free

Accessibility: Please note the tour encompasses climbing stairs and walking over uneven surfaces.

Click here to book your place on the tour.


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The Sydney Design Festival 2019 is now in its 21st year. This annual contemporary design festival creates a platform for a convergence of people, ideas and activities across creative industry sectors.

This years theme - ACCESSING DESIGN, seeks to promote responsive design that gives voice to diverse Sydney communities, and asks designers to broaden the definition of design and expand the dialogue between creative practice, access and inclusivity.

With an emphasis on the democratisation of design, the Sydney Design Festival is seeking a broad representation and involvement from both established and emerging design practitioners and interdisciplinary creative practices. ACCESSING DESIGN asks the design community to question and contemplate their creative practice:

  • Who are they designing for and how can audiences access this?
  • What is the role of design in creating a more accessible world? How can we all be more open and inclusive with our approach to design?

Click here to explore What’s On over the festival calendar.

  • Article: Vanessa Couzens
  • Image 1: Sydney Design Festival logo - New Armor Stool (detail), designed by Kwangho Lee, South Korea, 2014. MAAS Collection
  • Image 2: An image of Sydney Observatory tour attendees (Photo: AAA)
  • Image 3: An image of Ultimo Walk tour attendees (Photo: AAA)
  • Image 4: Sydney Design Festival logo - ‘Marilyn’ sofa (detail), designed by Studio 65, made by Gufram, Italy, 1970. MAAS Collection


Meet AAA Vice President Ben Gerstel

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By Ben Gerstel

As an architect and resident of Castlecrag, I feel I am very lucky. This luck is three fold for the following reasons, I live in the suburb, I am an architect and I am surrounded by domestic architecture which I love.

To give an example of the wealth of domestic architecture in Castlecrag, we have Burley Griffin and Eric Nicholls houses, houses by Harry Seidler, Philip Cox, Allen Jack and Cottier, Peter Muller, Bill Lucas, Bruce Rickard, Alex Popov, Virginia Kerridge, Hugh Buhrich, Theodore Fry, Hugo Stossel, Arthur Baldwinson, Neville Gruzman, Robert McClurcan, Gordon M Jenkins and Engelen and Moore to name a few. Castlecrag is soon to have new houses by Marsh Cashman Kooloos and Koichi Tadaka.

There are lots of other architect designed houses but these have to be researched at Willoughby City Council.

I grew up in Castlecove, so I have not moved very far from home. As a child, I loved this suburb for all the red textured brick 1960’s houses with massing at obtuse angles. These houses had wild designed balustrades and garage doors. . Little did I realise that these houses may not of been designed by an architect!

I am sure with these houses and my Lego blocks (not in kit form) were my inspiration to become an architect, but let’s not mention receiving a book on Frank Lloyd Wright at the age of 13

When I started my practice, I introduced myself to the local real estate agents with the view that when people buy a house in the suburb, may want a local architect, me! This happened. These are clients who I would never had otherwise.

I also joined Archicentre, an organisation (no longer in NSW, pity) that connected registered architects with people looking for an architect in their area. One of my first projects was to renovate one of these Castlecove 1960’s houses. It was an experience. I loved it but also very challenging being at the beginning of my solo career.

Unfortunately Castlecove is being gentrified like lots of other Sydney suburbs. Houses are being knocked down, renovated or replaced with project homes. We have lost these wonderful time pieces of architectural domestic history. Unfortunately this happened to my family home.

Another source of learning about the houses in Castlecrag is I write a column for a local periodical called The Crag, which is produced by the Castlecrag Progress Association. There are four issues a year and I started writing in 2010. I was asked to write about one house located in Castlecrag for each issue. This has allowed my into some fantastic houses which I would never of seen otherwise.

Through my walks in the suburb for the association (AAA Castlecrag Walks 1 and 2), these have also opened some doors again to houses which I never would of seen either and this makes these walks special for the attendees.

As a local resident, I get to know a lot of the residents who live here and from them, I hear what is happening in the suburb. Which houses are being demolished and who is the architect. This is how I keep my finger on the pulse.

Since becoming an architect, I have learnt of all the other wonderful architect designed houses in the surrounding suburbs of Middle Cove and Northbridge. From this knowledge I have developed these walks for the AAA.


Want to experience a AAA Castlecrag Walk? Join the next tour in March.


Location: Quadrangle Shopping Village, 100 Edinburgh Road, Castlecrag NSW 2068
Date: Saturday 9 March 2019
Time: 2.00pm - 4.00pm
Tickets: $30 (Public) / $25 (Concession) / Free (AAA

Numbers are limited. Click here - to secure your place on the tour.

  • Article: Ben Gerstel
  • Image: Ben Gerstel with tour group attendees on the Castlecrag Walk.
  • Photographer: Annette Dearing