Bega Valley architect Kelli Rieck has taken out two major national design awards for a complex home she designed in Tura Beach in collaboration with owners Peter and Anne Brannelly.
She was awarded first place in the National Design Awards' highly competitive $500,000 to $750,000 build category and also took out the 2021 TIDA Australia Designer New Home of the Year.
She is now also in the running for TIDA's international award category and said she felt honoured to have been recognised in this way.
The Tura Beach home was ambitious as there were numerous challenges to overcome, but addressing those difficulties head-on are what really impressed the judges of both awards.
The site purchased was a sloping 644.6 square metre corner block. It was constrained by 3 metre easements on three sides, one side with 7.5 metre easement, and a 7 metre imposed height limit.
Two street frontages also meant Ms Rieck had to design in a way that would prevent people from seeing straight into the home and also designing in a way that would also provide privacy from pedestrians accessing the bush reserve behind the house.
Nothing was too ambitious though, and it was her collaborative work with client and local builder Mr Brannelly that really allowed them to achieve the final result.
"We rough sketched it and then Kelli finessed it," said Mr Brannelly, who said he and his wife had "a bit of an eye" for what they wanted before getting Ms Rieck onboard.
Site observation found the neighbouring house directly to the right largely overshadowed their block in the morning.
The overshadowing on the north facing courtyard was reduced by placing it on the upper level and creating an "L" shaped indoor/outdoor living area.
A small steel viewing platform with glass panels was also added later during the build to make use of the space to create a glimpse of an ocean view.
"There was never any thought of view, we always said because there's so many houses in front of us," said Mr Brannelly.
But once the glimpses came about, amendments to the plans were pushed through council to take full advantage of them.
A larger than anticipated window was also placed in the corner of the loungeroom on the same side as the viewing platform to extend the viewing capacity from inside.
Additional challenges to the loungeroom were the lack of squared walls and the sloping of the roof due to those height restrictions. It meant that even the wooden floorboards had to be lined up unevenly.
Luckily Mr Brannelly had the patience to put together his own "jigsaw puzzle" but admitted, "a lot of tradies weren't happy because nothing is standard or square in this house".
The issue of street privacy on the southern side of the corner block was mitigated using a Colorbond clad, sawtooth facade.
The angle of the sawtooth makes it is difficult to look back into the interior of the dwelling and makes for a striking feature from the street view.
The home was created to be solar passive and was built to let more light in during winter and keep light and heat out during summer.
This is very noticeable in the outdoor/indoor living area when you fist walk in where concrete clad was laid to better maintain the desired temperatures. They also have solar panels to power their electricity.
"Every time you're looking at a house, whether it's a renovation or a build you're thinking, 'where's north?' That's your priority when you go on site. When you know where north is, that's where your warmth is so your living rooms should go there," said Ms Rieck.
Although the Brannellys' children have all left home since the build was undertaken in 2018, it was still built as a family home for when they return to visit.
It would be possible to also convert the downstairs level into a self-contained separate living quarters to be rented out or used for a carer if the couple decided to remain in the home as they aged.
Ground level entry is also possible on the lower level.
The home's total floor area came in at 320 square metres, including both levels, the garage, and patios.
Ms Rieck said the benefit of working with a designer meant a house is shaped to the land and based on the direction of the sun.
She said where house design goes wrong is that a lot of people are taught to buy off a plan that is unsuitable for their block of land.
"If you want a comfortable house, you need to be prepared to spend just a little bit more because you're going to save more in the long run... it might be more affordable but that's about all it's offering.
"As much as I entered it [the award] for the design work that I did alongside Pete and Anne's input, it really is a testament to this area and there are some really talented local tradies and builders.
"I'm really passionate about good design and I'm always learning and it's working with builders like Pete that allow you to come and do the site visits and work as a team and that's where you learn and push yourself," said Ms Rieck.