A reflection of what is truly important and what we need to live well is how the judges described this year's Australian House of the Year.
A humble beachside restoration in the Gold Coast suburbs took home the top accolade and although it is a modest home, Cantala Avenue House by ME is rich in thought and consideration.
Chosen by a panel of industry experts, the house is significant in the way it evolves the idea of an antipodean coastal home. It rejoices in the idea of simplicity with a design that mirrors the no-fuss nature of the Australian home, with strong considerations towards sustainability and affordability.
Of the winner, the 2020 Houses jury commented that the architect Matthew Eagle has solved ordinary design problems in an extraordinary way, reconsidered the suburban status quo and pushed boundaries.
Cantala Avenue House is joined in its accolades by an outstanding collection of architectural works, including homes that exemplify a thoughtful interplay between indoors and out, a dramatic clifftop garden adorned with native plants and edible flora, and an unconventional Bondi home that experiments with materiality and embraces its laneway facade.
Celebrating its tenth year, the Houses Awards have set a benchmark of excellence in residential architecture.
The Award for Sustainability was presented to a home found in Waratah by Anthrosite.
The jury found the deliberation for this year's Sustainability award to be a delightful challenge, given the breadth of mature and thoughtful shortlisted work that championed sustainability as inherent to good design.
Waratah Secondary House stood out to the jury, however, in part due to its modesty. It is a home designed and built with affordability, pragmatism and comfort in mind, while also delivering a resolved and thoughtful architectural outcome.
Waratah Secondary House demonstrates something that we need more of - housing that doesn't cost the earth, literally or figuratively.
The jury was particularly impressed by its response to context as an infill dwelling created on a small, challenging site, along with the architect's focus on creating a high-performance envelope, and on utilising efficient and low-waste materials and construction methodologies, such as Structural Insulated Panel System (SIPS) and embracing raw, exposed finishes.
The architect said that this was an exercise in affordable housing and this simple, box-like form was conceived to expedite construction times and keep costs low.
The winner for a house in a heritage context was Fitzroy North House 02 by Rob Kennon Architects. It presents an elegant solution to the tension that can exist between a new house and its heritage streetscape.
The home's carefully composed form reflects the typical urban massing of Victorian cottages and replaces a non-contributory building in a heritage precinct of Melbourne. Rob Kennon Architects has used traditional materials, like timber, brick and corrugated metal, in a contemporary way to make a quietly powerful statement.
The pitched roof, implied verandah and timber picket fence highlight the critical lines of the neighbouring properties, while restrained and thoughtful external detailing encourages closer inspection.