Top gong for gifted architects

BEST OF THE BEST: This Griffith home took out the award for best new house in NSW. Picture: Sharrin Rees.
BEST OF THE BEST: This Griffith home took out the award for best new house in NSW. Picture: Sharrin Rees.

POPOV Bass Architects has taken out the award for the best new house in NSW with a home in Griffith.

Alex Popov and Brian Bass' design, which was built by Forlico Builders, won the state's annual Wilkinson Award.

Judge and jury chair Virginia Kerridge said the planning for the house was calm and rational.

"The overriding sense within is of tranquility," she said.

Mr Popov and Mr Bass needed to build a home that could accommodate visiting children and grandchildren, along with the owners' art collection on a rural farm on the south eastern fringe of the city.

There were challenges in coming up with the perfect design.

"This was a tough, hard environment," Mr Bass said.

The 11.3 hectare site was flood-zoned and almost dead flat on a red soil plain.

The two architects opted for a stretched, courtyard house facing north-south and mostly closed to the east and west, located on the most elevated spot possible.

Built of robust yet exquisitely detailed concrete and masonry, it was designed to create "a human scale place in a wide, big-sky landscape".

"We found we wanted to make the landscape small enough so that you didn't feel lost on an endless plain," Mr Bass said.

First sightings of the Griffith house are of a dramatic three-metre high, 30-metre long concrete wall; a sculptural, heroic element concealing much of the dwelling and acting as a threshold between landscape and interior.

Internally, the house is defined by a series of north-south reaching vaults, containing galleries, spaces and courtyards, intersected by east-west passages.

Bedrooms and services are placed along the west and east and living spaces to the north and south, with courtyards dotted between.

Concrete is contrasted with fine timber detailing and natural lighting is carefully managed through openings, courtyards and tall skylights.

The Griffith house will now contest the national Robin Boyd Award for residential architecture at the Australian Insistute of Architects National Architecture Awards in Darwin in November.

Anthony Forlico, managing director of Forlico Builders, said he was excited to hear the news.

"The contrast of the exposed concrete elements and the fine timber detailing is truly outstanding," Mr Forlico said.