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AAA Residential Bus Tour To Take Place in August

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Don't miss out on our Winter residential tour which is an all day event where you will be visiting some of the most interesting new and renovated contemporary architecture in the inner west and northern suburbs of Sydney.

Inside the houses you will hear about the design process from the architects and see firsthand the value of good design.

Projects by the following architects: David Boyle Architects; Sam Crawford Architects;Carter Williamson Architects.

The day includes a delicious sit down lunch, itinerary, commentary by architects at the houses and coach travel. There will also be the opportunity to talk to some of the architects at the luncheon.


Location: Meet Loftus Street, beside Customs House, Circular Quay NSW 2000
Date: Saturday 11 August 2018
Time: 9.30am - 5.30pm
Tickets: $205 (public) / $190 (AAA Members)

Hurry tickets will sell out fast, so book now!

Click here to secure your place on the tour.

  • Article: Annette Dearing
  • Image: Northbridge Residence, designed by David Boyle Architect (Photo provided by David Boyle)

June's At Home With The Architect Visits Castlecrag

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This month 'At Home With The Architect' invites you to explore a residence in the garden suburb Castlecrag, designed by AAA Vice President and architect - Ben Gerstel.

Located in the Griffin Conservation Area of Castlecrag, the modest 1940's brick and tile residence was in need of an update. The clients wanted additional living space to accommodate their family and a garage.

An existing badly built extension at the rear of their house was demolished and replaced by a new light weight timber framed, fibre cement clad extension, that kept the original footprint of the home. A dramatic colour scheme selected by the clients highlights the demarcation between the original home and it's new spaces.

Ben Gerstel describes this type of alteration and addition as 'Jekyll and Hyde' - in that the new spaces are concealed from the street face and create a striking experience when entering the interior.


Established in 1997, Ben Gerstel Architecture is a small design studio located in Castlecrag, that specialises in residential design.

Before beginning his own practice, Ben worked for 15 years in a variety of small, medium and large architectural practices. 

Ben's ethos is to create residential spaces that integrate sustainable design principles, provide clients with planning solutions to suit their lifestyle and maintain a sensitivity to realistic budgets.


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 24 June 2018
Tickets: $35 (Early Bird) / $45 (Public) / $30 (AAA Members)

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

Book your place on the tour, click here.

  • Article: Vanessa Couzens
  • Image: Castlecrag Residence designed by Ben Gerstel Architecture (image courtesy of Ben Gerstel)



The Breathtaking Power of Vernacular Cultural Architecture

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Sometimes it works. A place you have wanted to see for years does live up to your expectation.

Ever since the late 1990s when I edited Timber in Context – a guide to sustainable use by Anne-Marie Willis and Tony Fry, then of the EcoDesign Foundation, one image has transfixed me: three imposing yet remarkably delicate-for-their-height curved timber structures. It is as if they are emerging from the undergrowth and in John Gollings’ photograph, the burnished gold adding to what already was a contemporary, pharaonic presence. 

This May I finally visited Nouméa, the capital of New Caledonia, to see the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre. It was a public holiday. It was raining. There was no sign of a bus, but my partner and I had to get there. It was today or never. Luckily, we did not have to do anything intrepid, just catch a taxi from the tourist office. We caught the same taxi back as well, and judging by the stream of calls the driver got while on the road, he was one of the very few working that day. 

The centre is on a narrow peninsular between two bays, and we zig zagged at startling speed along the eight kilometres of lushly vegetated coastal road. Jean-Marie Tjibaou was an independence fighter. He was assassinated in 1989, but not before proclaiming his vision of establishing a cultural centre to celebrate Kanak languages and artistry.

The centre is both enveloped by its surroundings while also overseeing them. It opened in June 1998 and just as architect Renzo Piano’s Centre Pompidou was a modern miracle in Paris, this series of 10 massive but slender pavilions pinpoints how architecture can embrace and yet transform a place. 

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The timber (combined with steel in a composite structure) is Iroko, a hardwood tree from Ghana. Timber in Context explained it was chosen to withstand Pacific earthquake and cyclone belts, was termite resistant and priced competitively. 

The pavilions are based on traditional Kanak domestic structures and Kanak Grand Hut design. They are glimpsed at every angle, often soaring above the treetops. What is known as the Kanak path is a stepped walk leading further in to the core, and the discovery of the pavilions as they spread out across the terrain in the distance interspersed with traditional huts with variegated roofs conical to flatter, wooden statues and patterned welcome ribbons. 

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A full sweep of the pavilions as far as the eye can see is gained from the lush ridge (breezes help cool the air), before a return to the pathway, winding along mangrove areas and then quiet gardens with native essences and plants, and further on to ponds with black goldfish, vibrant bougainvillea and a trickling waterfall.

Inside, there is an art centre, a museum, performance, event and conference spaces and a multi-media library, closed on the Sunday we were there but in the informal meeting area, three tables of students were poring over their books – and sandwiches. It is all managed by the Kanak Culture Development Agency, with a plethora of tribal art and colonial style photographs from English photographer Allan Hughan (1834-1883), who had his own business in Nouméa, and was government photographer. 

Yes, the Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre is a centre that inspires at all levels.

  • Article: Deborah Singerman -
  • Images: The Jean-Marie Tjibaou Cultural Centre (Photographer: Deborah Singerman)

Explore Sydney Observatory With the AAA and MAAS

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Due it's popularity during Sydney Design 2018, the Australian Architecture Association (AAA) and MAAS (the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences) are proud to announce they are partnering to present the Sydney Observatory Architecture Tour throughout the remainder of 2018.


In association with MAAS (the Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences) the AAA developed a special architectural tour of the Sydney Observatory in Millers Point, The Rocks.

Join volunteers from the AAA on an architectural tour of one of Sydney’s most significant historic sites.

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.


Location: Sydney Observatory, 1003 Upper Fort St, Millers Point NSW
Time: 11.00am - 12.30pm
Sunday 29 July
Sunday 26 August
Sunday 30 September
Sunday 28 October
Sunday 25 November 2018
Tickets: Adult $30 / Concession $25 / MAAS & AAA Members $25
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.

Don't miss out book now - click here.

  • Article: Vanessa Couzens
  • Image: The Sydney Design 2018 tour held in March (Photographer: Annette Dearing)


Photographic Review of May's Booked Out Tour

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Image 1: Pavilion adjoining a Queen Anne style residence restored by Jorge Hrdina Architects (Image supplied by Jorge Hrdina Architects).

On Saturday 5 May the sold out AAA Residential Bus Tour, set out from Customs House to explore contemporary design in the Northern Beaches area. Under perfect blue skies tour participants enjoyed exploring the interiors and exteriors of four residential projects designed by Utz Sanby Architects, Drew Heath Architects and Jorge Hrdina Architects.

As a bonus addition to the tour, Drew Heath welcomed the tour at his studio on Careel Bay Marina and offered an insight into how his practice operates and his approach to design through the extensive use of architectural models.

Below are some photographs of what was seen over the day.


Designed by Utz Sanby Architects.

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Image 2: Duncan Sanby of Utz Sanby Architects, explains how the heritage listed Palm Beach holiday house was restored and reimagined through a series of modern extensions.

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Image 3: A view from the lower level of the residence containing a contemporary addition of living and bedroom spaces facing onto a landscaped pool area.

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Image 4: A luxurious ensuite bathroom at the rear of the house in the contemporary house addition, enjoys spectacular views of Palm Beach.


Studio designed by Drew Heath Architects

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Image 5: Drew Heath of Drew Heath Architects discusses how he approached the design of his studio space and explains how he approaches designing through the use of architectural models.

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Image 6: Interior of the Drew Heath Architects studio.


Designed by Drew Heath Architects

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Image 7: Avalon residenve - rear living pavilion.

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Image 8: Interior of the Avalon Residence.


Designed by Drew Heath Architects

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Image 9: Tour participants outside the garage / studio apartment pavilion that will eventually complement a primary residence.

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Image 10: Drew Heath explains the design of the stages of construction for the property.

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Image 11: Interior of the studio apartment space above garage level.


Designed by Jorge Hrdina Architects

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Image 12: Jorge Hrdina explains how the project incorporated the renovations and restoration of a Queen Anne style residence and addition of a generous poolside pavilion, housing carparking, a wine cellar, living space, visitor accommodations and entertaining spaces - including a rooftop deck.

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Image 13: The exterior of the Pavilion

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Image 14: The exterior of the Queen Anne style  residence.

Thank you to all the architects and their clients for generously opening the doors on some fabulous homes. A great day was had by all!

Keep your eye on upcoming issues of 'All About Architecture' for announcements about the next residential tour. Make sure you book tickets early - otherwise you'll miss out!

  • Article: Vanessa Couzens
  • Image 1: Pavilion designed by Jorge Hrdina Architects
  • Photographer: Vanessa Couzens