Autumn House: Carlton North pad sets new bar at Houses Awards 2022

Autumn House by Studio Bright (Carlton North, VIC). Photography: Rory Gardiner.

A Carlton North home has cleaned up at a leading design and architecture awards, which also honoured a quirky Coburg pad with cutting-edge perks for parents and children.

Autumn House by Studio Bright won an unprecedented four categories at last night’s Houses Awards, including the main Australian House of the Year title.

The Hutt 01 Passivhaus designed by Melbourne Design Studios’ Marc and Felicity Bernstein as their family dream home right on the Upfield Line won the Sustainability category.

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Autumn House by Studio Bright (Carlton North, VIC). Photography: Rory Gardiner.

Autumn House by Studio Bright (Carlton North, VIC). Photography: Rory Gardiner.

And two Flinders designs won the ‘new house’ gongs: Always by Kennedy Nolan (New House Over 200sq m) and Corner House by Archier (New House Under 200sq m).

The Bernsteins’ home is so efficient and well designed they’re immune from rising energy costs — and basically can’t hear the trains over the fence with the windows closed.

“It’s a certified Passivhaus premium, which is the highest category,” Mr Bernstein said.

“What that means, basically, is that over the course of the year we generate more energy than we need; we very rarely use heating or cooling.

“We have a split system that runs maybe eight days of the year in summer.”

While it’s the award-winning eco performance that floats Mr Bernstein’s boat, the couple’s children also no doubt have the coolest place to visit among their friends.

Autumn House by Studio Bright (Carlton North, VIC). Photography: Rory Gardiner.

Autumn House by Studio Bright (Carlton North, VIC). Photography: Rory Gardiner.

Autumn House by Studio Bright (Carlton North, VIC). Photography: Rory Gardiner.

“The kids bedrooms are basically two levels; there’s a daytime level with a desk chair and all that and then you climb up on the furniture and come up to this mezzanine level with a void over the other half of the room, covered by a cargo net,” Mr Bernstein said.

“The net protects you from falling down, but at the same time utilizes the space very well as an extra activity space where you can hang out and read.

“My 12-year-old has his friends over almost every day and they take turns on the computer and the others sit in the net and talk.”

Autumn House also won House Alteration and Addition Over 200sq m, Garden or Landscape, and was a joint winner of House in a Heritage Context.

The Hütt 01 Passivhaus by Melbourne Design Studios (MDS) (Coburg, VIC). Picture: Immanuel Bosse.

HIGH RESThe Hütt 01 Passivhaus by Melbourne Design Studios (MDS) (Coburg, VIC). Photography: Marnie Hawson.

HIGH RESThe Hütt 01 Passivhaus by Melbourne Design Studios (MDS) (Coburg, VIC). Photography: Marnie Hawson.

Architect Mel Bright, of Bright Studio, said the original Victorian terrace was pretty much a one-bedroom house, and also had a 1980s renovation by architect Mick Jörgensen.

“We wanted to be sensitive to those two eras, but add a new layer that was more contemporary,” she said.

“We slid in a new element that wraps around two garden spaces and an existing elm tree, and that space has a mesh-covered upper wedge that’s almost like an upper level garden arbour.”

Ms Bright said the two-storey extension made the most of northern light with a new kitchen and living area, as well as a main bedroom upstairs with its own terrace.

HIGH RESThe Hütt 01 Passivhaus by Melbourne Design Studios (MDS) (Coburg, VIC). Photography: Maitreya Chandorkar.

HIGH RESThe Hütt 01 Passivhaus by Melbourne Design Studios (MDS) (Coburg, VIC),, Photography: Marnie Hawson.

Houses Awards jury chair Alexa Kempton said “every inch” of the alteration and addition was “well considered and had been “addressed with precision and skill by Studio Bright”.

“Terraced houses make up a significant proportion of our existing housing stock, and this home is testament to what can be achieved in the inventive reworking of the terraced house.

Corner House by Archier (Flinders, VIC). Photography: Rory Gardiner.

Corner House by Archier (Flinders, VIC). Photography: Rory Gardiner.

“It maximises usable space on an inner-suburban block, yet it is also generous to the street; it thoughtfully preserves the home’s heritage elements without being beholden to them; and it is peppered with thoughtful and serene garden spaces.”

Autumn House’s owner, who wished to remain anonymous, said the seasonably named property was truly “the most lovely house” and a “special space” all year.

Victoria’s Placement Studio won Emerging Architecture Practice, with only three out of 11 categories at the 2022 awards won by non-Victorian entries.

Always by Kennedy Nolan (Flinders, VIC). Photography: Derek Swalwell.

Always by Kennedy Nolan (Flinders, VIC). Photography: Derek Swalwell.

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