From Australia's first Earthship project to a "concrete bunker" apartment, here are some of the most outstanding projects that have been featured on Architecture & Design this year. 

1. Pioneering sustainability in Australia’s first Earthship

Earthship Australia

Earthship Ironbank is Australia’s first approved Earthship project. It is currently being used as a commercial bed-and-breakfast as well as a test site for Earthship research. Designer Martin Freney, founder of Earthship Eco Homes is using this project to uncover how energy and water efficient Earthships are, and whether they work will in the Australian climate.

2. Reimagining the classic Australian beach shack

Australian beach shack

Sitting wedged between a cliff and the beach, Hart House is a stunning contemporary interpretation of the classic Australian beach shack. As the house is only accessible by water, it was important for it to be self-sufficient. The roof houses a large array of solar panels for energy, rainwater is harvested for the occupant’s needs and waste is processed on site.

3. Stunning modern home cut out of the landscape

Warmia house

Green Line is a solitary house that effortlessly blends with its surroundings. Dealing with the harsh landscape of Warmia in north-east Poland, architect Przemek Olczyk was inspired to embed the building in the morphology of the plot.

4. Redefining a place of worship for modern times

modern church architecture

This modern chapel design reinterprets the functions of a place of worship, increasing flexibility while retaining its core purpose as a religious space. Designed by Jackson Teece, the new St James’ Chapel and Dover Hall are an integral part of Anglicare’s Retirement Living and Aged Care precinct in Castle Hill.

5. The sustainable beach house that rejects its built context

coastal home green roof

Bundeena Beach House is a sustainable coastal home that purposely rejects its built context, instead choosing to forge a connection between the street and the natural environment beyond. Situated on a rocky headland at the end of a beach, adjoining the public access-way, this project required a unique, sustainable response with a high level of sensitivity to the site.

6. Designing a utilitarian “concrete bunker” apartment

concrete bunker apartment

An existing warehouse conversion has been transformed into a “concrete bunker” for two design professionals in Camperdown. With its use of rendered finishes and rejection of ornamentation, this apartment has been conceived as an intimate, yet utilitarian space inspired by Brutalism and the local warehouse vernacular.

7. The subtropical architecture challenging perceptions of living

subtropical architecture

While categorically a dwelling, the Pavilion’s function is distinctly communal in nature. The building is divided into two very discrete parts; an open, functionally public local gathering space, and a hidden, intensely private retreat.

8. Waterfront Retreat: A floating architectural marvel

floating architecture

Located on a steeply sloping waterfront block in the Sydney suburb of Newport, Waterfront Retreat is a four-storey house presented as a set of floating platforms graduating towards Pittwater; a series of cantilevered concrete slabs that hover above a recessed stacked stone podium.

9. A stunning prefab timber surf lifesaving tower

lifesaving tower

The Smiths Beach Surf Life Saving Tower is a prefabricated structure that has been thoughtfully designed for safety, seasonal use and harsh coastal conditions. The structure has no discernible front or back and is designed to be viewed in the round. Its form is accentuated with angled weathered Ironbark fins that conceal a durable corrugated metal facade.

10. The timber beach house that’s “all front”

timber beach house

St Andrews Beach house is a circular timber house that is “all front”, with panoramic views on all sides. With no neighbouring forms to respond to, this home was freely imagined by the architect. Its shape was determined in response to the surrounding landscape and the client’s desire for a simple interior space.