Bold, 9-star Cowaramup ‘barn’ wins Environmentally Sustainable Design Award in WA Awards

PERTH: Honeysuckle House, a 9-star Cowaramup home designed by Margaret-River-based Building Designer Michael Lurie of Lurie Concepts, has won the Design Matters National Building Design Award for Best Environmentally Sustainable Design (WA) 2021. 

The annual design award winners were announced on Friday 15 October, at a spectacular event held at the newly renovated WA Museum Boola Bardip. Local celebrity MC Holly McSweeney hosted the evening in front of a room filled with Design Matters National Members, their guests, VIPs, and major sponsors.

The Building Designer, DMN Member Michael Lurie of Lurie Concepts, who specialises in designing bespoke, environmentally-friendly homes and renovations, leveraged his 22+ year career in building and construction to win an incredible seven gongs in this year’s WA Awards – among them, Best Residential Design New House in the $300,001-$500k category, which Honeysuckle House also took out. 

In awarding the Environmentally Sustainable Design Award, the judges said they appreciated the home’s 9-star rating, the use of solar power, and organic materials, such as timber, in the construction. They described the winning project as: “A successful example of minimalist design, inspired by contemporary Scandinavian architecture. It benefits greatly from the natural surroundings and integrates well in the landscape from a palette perspective while standing out due to its sharp geometry and external cladding. The interiors are well designed and welcoming, with warm/neutral colours and lots of natural light”.

Mr. Lurie accepted the Award in absentia, saying, “Even though it is only one room wide, the house has an illusion of scale created by its length and slight elevation above street level. The visual expression of the home pays homage to the familiar sight of three-sided hay shed, with the rendered hemp feature wall opening up to the street.

“As the designer and owner, there was an intimacy of understanding and level of control that facilitated exceptional design outcomes to be achieved. Informed by environmental and sustainability philosophies we were able to carefully respond to the immediate site conditions, functional constraints, and our lifestyle goals,” he said. 

The Building Designer wanted to challenge the idea of what was ‘needed’ in a house to design an efficient floor plan that was as adaptable as possible. He noted that Australians are still building, on average, the biggest homes in the world, and believed a reduced footprint is the most sustainable outcome. 

“A smaller, well-designed home is not only more affordable, requiring fewer materials and less energy to construct, but it will also consume less energy, be easier to clean, and lower maintenance, meaning more free time and money saved to reinvest into our young family,” Mr. Lurie said. 

Mr. Lurie said Honeysuckle House’s “hygge interiors embraced warm timbers, zero VOC clay paints, and tumbled face brick walls. The barn hugs the length of the southern boundary to maximise north solar access whilst a detached garage and laundry have been rotated 7 degrees to create dynamic circulation and multiple outdoor rooms. Several innovative construction techniques were employed to increase the performance and health of the home including the use of hemp walls, earthed slab reinforcement, and allowing for natural ventilation of the building’s entire structure.”

Boasting a NatHERs 9.0-star energy rating, Honeysuckle House’s sustainability considerations include: 
- Hemp walls which are fireproof, non-toxic, breathable, and highly insulative
- Zero/low VOC, non-toxic or natural, renewable or recyclable products and methods of construction, and 
- Window surrounds, recessed alcoves and patio with deciduous vine for sun control.

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