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Grand Designs Australia Series Two

Last Updated Apr 2, 2012 · Written by

Architecture|Grand Designs Australia Live 2011

The first series of Grand Designs Australia proved to be a runaway success – garnering awards and acclaim in the wake of its inaugural 2010 run. While some thought that the programme would struggle in the shadow of its much acclaimed UK-based forbearer, it has comfortably evaded this ignominy.  This is largely due to the series showcasing truly innovative local architecture, in many cases informed by and defined by our unique environment. Affable host Peter Maddison also helps things tick along very smoothly, with insights and observations befitting his experienced architect’s eye. hipages caught up with Peter as they wrapped up filming for series two, which airs on the Lifestyle Channel Thursday April 5 at 8:30pm.

Have you just filmed two series back to back?

“Yes, we are still busy wrapping up filming for the last couple of episodes. We are profiling houses all over the country, so besides all the flying I have also driven the equivalent of three times around the world visiting the various sites.”

What do the budgets for the homes range from?

“A lot of people think Grand Designs is all about high end properties, but this series has one at $350 000 with most around the $1 million mark. The first episode profiles a home valued at $3.5million, but this – a large family home on a half acre block - is an exception.”

This is the Brighton Sixties home?

“Yes. Nick and Anna are inspired by the 1960s so wanted to bring an element of this to their family home. It was a real challenge to incorporate a sleek 1960s modernist ethos into this family residence. The result is a sinewy, taut creation with high polished concrete and shifting glass walls.”

What practical challenges did they face?

“There were a number. The flat roof was a real challenge for a start. People think that flat roofs are easy to construct, but they need to have a slight angle to them – and this is inherently difficult to achieve.”

Nick is a builder – was this a pro or con?

“Largely positive, as he has his own building company and has a lot of experience in the field. This allowed him to save a lot on labour and materials. On the con side, he was his own worst enemy in that he would see a new material and want it in his home. He would then proceed to tear up something and start all over.”

You also profile a ‘flat pack’ home in the new series – is this the future of home building?

“I certainly think that it is a great alternative to the uniform blandness that can often define suburbia. In terms of cost and efficiency modular or pre-fabricated homes are very attractive. The fact they are assembled in a controlled environment means that are not affected by factors such as the weather. They certainly are affordable and you can get a very impressive finished product. But they are not for everyone – there are certain limitations to this type of construction in terms of design and specification.”

What is the most innovative house of the second series?

“That is difficult to say, there is such variety. The Stonyfell house in Adelaide is pretty special. With this area being so dry owners Mike and Lowen are passionate about water conservation. Mike was very innovative in his approach – he basically threw all the different elements of a house into a hat and then started designing from scratch. So the house is defined by an enormous 100, 000 litre watertank that sits at the centre of the home.”

I see the Bushfire House has been voted the favourite viewers episode from the first series?

“Yes, that episode really had all the elements of a compelling drama – natural disaster, personal crisis and of course a stunning home evolved from all that. In fact we have another home with a bushfire theme in the upcoming series, though architecturally it takes a very different and radical approach. Owners Edd and Amanda lost their home in the Black Saturday bushfires so wanted a home that can withstand anything. They opted for a concrete bunker set into the earth.’

What obstacles has nature thrown up this time?

“The weather is always an issue. In fact at the moment it is looking pretty ominous here in Trinity Beach. Looks like we will be doing the reveal of the Pole House with an umbrella.”

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