Architecture is led by ideas, expressed through materials and form, and executed with craft and precision. It is neither art nor sculpture, although often described in these terms. It is a creative yet pragmatic process – and result – that must fulfil requirements for shelter and comfort, but has the ability to heighten our aesthetic sensibilities. These three houses display an art of living, and nudge architecture a little bit closer to sculpture.

Bossley Architects Fold House, Bay of Islands

Fold House, Bay of Islands
Bossley Architects

Building in a beautiful natural environment requires a delicate balance of minimising visual impact while making the most of the site. The Fold House is made of three separate pavilions, and offers a fine post-and-beam solution that allows the structure to step lightly across the land. A thin, triangulated roof floats over glass walls, supported by slim steel posts and timber walls for minimal presence and a weightless effect. The ceiling is lined in poplar plywood, which reflects the ocean and light, further dematerialising the structure.

Bossley Architects

Photo Simon Devitt

John Wardle Architects Fairhaven Beach House, Victoria

Fairhaven Beach House, Victoria
John Wardle Architects

Located on a ridgeline above the coast, the twisting box forms of the Fairhaven Beach House frame internal spaces and views to maximise opportunities presented by the site. Green-grey zinc cladding tilts and adjusts as the boxes step down the site, its colour blending with the dunes and coastal foliage. By contrast, the house interior is completely lined with solid timber to create warm and enclosing living spaces.

John Wardle Architects
Photo Peter Hyatt

Jesse Bennett Architect Planchonella House, Queensland

Planchonella House, Queensland
Jesse Bennett Architect

Set in tropical North Queensland, the Planchonella House celebrates its rainforest surrounds with passive, low-tech sustainability strategies to embrace and moderate the climate. Two large concrete slabs shelter the living spaces, curving in and out in plan to suit the topography of the site. With raw and unadorned structure, the house has a sculptural honesty often found in the tropical architecture of South America and India. Concrete, glass and timber are combined in traditional ways, reducing the number of finishing trades and providing simplicity and conceptual strength.

Jesse Bennett Architect
Photo Sean Fennessy