Living In Iconic Houses

Today I attended the second talk in a series prepared by Karen McCartney, guest curator of the Iconic Australian Houses Exhibition at Customs House, Sydney.

The discussion surrounded Living In Iconic Houses, where several panel guests reflected upon their time living in ‘Iconic Australian Homes’. Karen McCartney, currently living in Bruce Rickard’s Marshall House, Dr Bill Lyons, the commissioning client and current owner of Robin Boyd’s Lyons House, Sydney, and Neil Buhrich who grew up in numerous iconic homes designed and built by his late father, Hugh Buhrich.

Below: Marshall House, Bruce Rickard

Marshall House, architect Bruce Rickard. cropped. Photograph (c) Micheal Wee

For McCartney, it seemed as though the building had chosen her, as much as her choosing the house. Self-designated custodian to the house, she has meticulously preserved the dwelling. She has carefully considered the architectural design and complimented it with her own style and personality.


See the kitchen below. McCartney reflected that when small spaces are well and efficiently designed, they can continue to meet one’s needs.


Below: Lyons House, Robin Boydlyons 2

Dr Bill Lyons touched on the significance of the architect-client relationship. Something I feel quite passionate about is the importance not only of a good understanding between architect and client, but shared ideals, be they an aesthetic, or a design approach (eg sustainability). Lyons

Lyons also praised the design for withstanding his fluctuating life situations: the design enduring changing married, family and single life.lyons 4 Lyons continues to live in the house since he commissioned it in the late 60’s.lyons 5

lyons 3

Below: Buhrich House, Sydney

buhrich 3Son of Hugh Buhrich, Neil was raised in a house that was under a constant state of construction for most of his time there. He later moved into this house, designed and built by his father for himself and his wife, (Neil’s mother).Buhrich_House_6

Neil Buhrich shared childhood anecdotes of climbing precarious winder stairs, no balustrade, above vast drops below. He showed great pride and affection for the beautiful house, similar to McCartney and the Marshall house, who saw herself as custodian of the dwelling.

buhrich 2Buhrich_House_1

In audience discussion time, (led by Fenella Kernebone), proud owners and previous inhabitants of architect-designed homes reflected upon the happiness that their dwelling provided. It was so refreshing to hear non-architects discuss the nourishment that architecture can provide, from formative years as a child, to raising a family in such inspirational spaces.

Houses should not be oversized expressions of one’s wealth and stability. They should be warm, nourishing dwellings that contribute to the inhabitant’s general life.

Functional, efficient, relevant, beautiful and above all inspirational. Architecture in collaboration with its inhabitant.

Jigsaw Puzzle Living

Potts Point Apartment by Anthony Gill Architects
Team: Anthony Gill and Sarah Mcspadden
Location: Potts Point, Sydney, 2010

CAN Studio loves this renovation project by Anthony Gill Architects. For this little puzzle, the architects worked on their home apartment, cleverly renovating the space to improve the liveability of the apartment to suit the family needs.


The apartment is only 38sqm but creative joinery design uses every cubic metre of space to transform a one bedroom apartment into a liveable family home for three!


The insertion of a joinery wall maximises storage whilst its visual permeability provides the illusion of continued space rather than enclosure.


A raised built-in single bed provides a sleeping space and bedroom for their daughter, underneath which a double bed slides out into the main living space.


From the architects:

“The idea is about a rich and layered backdrop for living, something that we all interact with everyday. The materials used are inexpensive. The shelves and kitchen are constructed from form-ply (low grade pre-finished plywood used for concrete formwork) and the wardrobe/bed block is hoop pine plywood with a beeswax finish.”


A simple, functional kitchen is nestled discreetly behind the storage wall. A limited palette of materials and finishes is a great way to minimise costs, while the consistency reduces visual clutter. The stainless steel + black + ply finishes have a beautiful contemporary warmth.



Existing floor plan


New Floor Plan

What do you think of this example of high density living in Sydney, Australia? Could you imagine sliding your bed away each morning? We CAN

Check out the architect’s website here:

Information, photos and drawings from Arch Daily

Photos by Peter Bennetts: