Andrew Burges Bondi Bismarck House voted Australia’s best extension under 200sqm at Houses Awards

A renovated house behind a red-brick wall in a laneway beside Bondi Beach has been voted Australia’s best extension under 200 square metres – and it’s not hard to see why.

The semi-detached two-storey on the southern headland of Sydney’s most iconic seafront took the title at the 2020 Houses Awards on July 31, where 10 of the country’s finest properties were recognised across nine residential design categories.

Built in a no-frills ‘post-war’ style by Botany construction firm Robert Plumb and redesigned in 2019 by Surry Hills architect Andrew Bruges, judges called Bismarck House an ‘ingenious masterpiece’ that brings the life of the street and garden into every corner of the home.

They praised the architect for blurring the lines between private and public with features like an enormous kitchen window that opens directly into the lane, inviting passersby to look inside and strike up a conversation. 

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Bismarck House on the southern headland of Sydney's iconic Bondi Beach took the title of Australia's best home extension under 200 square metres

Bismarck House on the southern headland of Sydney’s iconic Bondi Beach took the title of Australia’s best home extension under 200 square metres

Judges called Bismarck House an 'ingenious masterpiece' that brings the life of the garden and adjacent laneway into every corner of the home

Judges called Bismarck House an ‘ingenious masterpiece’ that brings the life of the garden and adjacent laneway into every corner of the home

Deep timber window seats are fitted beneath, providing the perfect perch for residents to watch the world go by. 

In its winning statement, the jury said: ‘In crafting this extension to the rear of a typical semi-detached dwelling, [the architect] has sought active engagement with the public realm that, in turn, brings the domestic life of the house into direct relation with the energy and materiality of its laneway context.’

Behind the brick wall surrounding the house, the ground floor is designed as a ‘continuous garden’ that runs seamlessly from the outdoors, in. 

Judges praised the architect for blurring the lines between private and public with features like an enormous kitchen window (left) that opens directly into the lane, inviting passersby to look inside and strike up a conversation

Judges praised the architect for blurring the lines between private and public with features like an enormous kitchen window (left) that opens directly into the lane, inviting passersby to look inside and strike up a conversation

The bathroom is floored with concrete and fitted with galvanised steel

The industrial palette contrasts the earthy colour scheme of the kitchen downstairs

The bathroom (left) is floored with concrete and fitted with galvanised steel, an industrial palette that contrasts the earthy colour scheme  of the kitchen (right) downstairs

Three bedrooms span the upper level which has been strategically laid out to cast natural sunlight through large windows overlooking the lane. 

Industrial materials like cement and corrugated iron are used throughout the upstairs to contrast the earthy colour palette of rusted orange, timber brown and neutral beige of the ground floor.

Named after the majestic palm tree that flanks the façade, Bismarck House backs onto a recently renovated semi-detached owned by Bill Clifton, the director of Robert Plumb Build who oversaw the construction of both houses.

Three bedrooms are spread across the upstairs which is flooded with natural sunlight in every corner

Three bedrooms are spread across the upstairs which is flooded with natural sunlight in every corner

The house is surrounded by a wall of recycled redbrick and fitted with thoughtfully repurposed accessories

A sustainable approach that immediately caught judges' attention

The house is surrounded by a wall of recycled redbrick and fitted with thoughtfully repurposed accessories – a sustainable approach that immediately caught judges’ attention

Architect Andrew Burges developed what Yellow Trace calls a ‘two-skin’ exterior for the house, split between warm redbrick downstairs and watertight cladding covered with a pleated sheet of perforated aluminium upstairs.

It’s surrounded by a wall of recycled redbrick and fitted with thoughtfully repurposed accessories – a sustainable approach that immediately caught judges’ attention.

Amid the pandemic and Australia’s first recession in 29 years, the jury gave equal weight to affordability and environmentally-friendly aesthetics in their adjudication – making the laneway extension in one of Sydney’s most iconic neighbourhoods an obvious winner.

The ground floor is designed as a 'continuous garden' that runs seamlessly from the outdoors, in

The ground floor is designed as a ‘continuous garden’ that runs seamlessly from the outdoors, in

Bismarck House is named after the majestic palm tree (right) that flanks the façade

Architect Andrew Burges developed a 'two-skin' exterior for the house, split between warm redbrick downstairs and watertight cladding covered with a pleated sheet of perforated aluminium upstairs

Named after the majestic palm tree (left) that flanks the façade, Bismarck House has a ‘two-skin’ exterior (right) split between warm redbrick downstairs and watertight cladding covered with a pleated sheet of perforated aluminium upstairs

Houses Awards jury chairperson Katelin Butler told Daily Mail Australia the coronavirus crisis, climate emergency and economic downturn had heavily influenced this year’s voting.

‘The jury considered how these crises might affect the architecture we create,’ she said.

‘It was important to look beyond aesthetics to carefully consider affordability and sustainability.’

Presented by Houses magazine, the Houses Awards is an annual fixture celebrating Australia’s best residential projects.

Now in its 10th year, the awards shine a spotlight on emerging talent and recognise the country’s top designers. 

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