An often-despised and quietly celebrated trend is making a comeback as Aussies look to alternative forms of sustainable and organic home design
An often-despised and quietly celebrated trend is making a comeback as Aussies look to alternative forms of sustainable and organic home design

Hated home trend’s sustainable comeback

The often-despised and quietly celebrated brutalist architecture is making a comeback as Aussies look to alternative forms of sustainable and organic home design.

Inspired by hit TV show Grand Design and on the back of Sydney's protection of the polarising Sirius building, concrete has again become a front runner in contemporary home design.

Traditionally viewed as harsh or even ugly, homeowners' desires have moved beyond concrete squares to softer, more organic forms.

Brutalism is back. Picture: Michael Nicholson.
Brutalism is back. Picture: Michael Nicholson.

What has transpired is an emerging modern love affair with concrete.

Award-winner Neil Cownie is one architect on the crest of this breaking concrete wave.

Leaning on the enduring popularity of "robust" mid-century modern style, which includes clean lines, gentle organic curves and a mix of different materials, Mr Cowie's vision includes using colour to off-set the concrete.

"The wonderful thing about working with concrete is the liquid nature of the poured concrete prior to it setting," he said

"It's a sort of 'liquid stone'. This allows the moulds that hold the concrete to define the finished texture."

One of his masterpieces is the Perth home of the Johnson family: Roscommon House.

Lisa Johnson and her husband Brad, who have two young children, demolished a tired old cottage they had bought and breathed new life into the level block of land with a modern concrete gem.

The Johnson Family – owners of the Roscommon House.
The Johnson Family – owners of the Roscommon House.

"The whole process was about adding texture to the concrete to create a very comfortable design with lots of interchangeable materials.

"I love colour and bold colour against concrete is especially beautiful.

"Neil also emphasised that, to make the house liveable and warm, timber would be an ideal companion material. We have cut, panelled timber throughout the home and it feels so inviting."

The Sirius building in Sydney, one of Australia’s best examples of Brutalist architecture, has been saved from demolition.
The Sirius building in Sydney, one of Australia’s best examples of Brutalist architecture, has been saved from demolition.

"It was because of Grand Designs that I realised you could really do anything you want with concrete," Mrs Johnson said.

At Home magazine.
At Home magazine.

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Originally published as 'Brutal': hated home trend's sustainable comeback

‘Liquid stone.’ Picture: Robert Frith
‘Liquid stone.’ Picture: Robert Frith
A modern masterpiece. Picture: Robert Frith
A modern masterpiece. Picture: Robert Frith


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