Living in the Landscape

“As urban life becomes increasingly more demanding, many people are choosing to build away from the city in a way that acknowledges and connects with the landscape.”

So begins Anna Johnson and Richard Black’s Living in the Landscape which through 28 Australian and New Zealand houses located in remarkable locations explores novel relationships between landscape and design. Look out for KTA’s House at Hanging Rock, evocatively photographed by Sharyn Cairns, on page 242.

The Place Economy

KTA features in this new book by Melbourne-based branding agency Hoyne, subtitled “The real world social and economic benefits of effective placemaking”.


Bringing together leading thinkers and practitioners in the fields of architecture, urban planning, health, sustainability and philosophy, its interviews, articles and case studies argue that investment in better placemaking can lead not only to happier and healthier communities but also better performing economies.

Each book costs $200, with proceeds going to Habitat for Humanity, a not-for-profit organization that provides affordable housing for families in need.

Riversdale Design Competition winner

In exciting news this week, KTA has been announced as the winner of the Riversdale Design Competition.


The prize? To design the $28.5-million expansion of Arthur Boyd’s Riversdale property in the Shoalhaven region of New South Wales.

Home to a collection of historic buildings as well as the Arthur and Yvonne Boyd Education Centre designed in 1999 by Glenn Murcutt, Wendy Lewin and Reg Lark, the expansion will include a new accommodation wing, creative learning centre, visitor hub and a new gallery that will house more than 3,800 items by Arthur Boyd and other Australian artists including Sidney Nolan, Charles Blackman, Brett Whiteley and John Perceval.

Make yourself at home

We often talk about KTA projects having a close connection to their local environment but our current residential project in Apollo Bay takes that philosophy one extra step.


The builders found this little guy on site this week, just checking out the new neighbors and their digs. Always pays to be curious.

The Red and Black Architect

Michael Smith and Sonia Sarangi of The Red and Black Architect sit down for an in-depth conversation with Kerstin to discuss the built environment, form making and the relentless negotiation required to create excellent architecture.


The second part of the interview is published here.

Virtual tour of Deakin A+B

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, so how to calculate the value of a 3D fly-through? Do the sums while you take a virtual tour of KTA’s recently completely project for the Deakin School of Architecture and the Built Environment/A+B here. Look out for the views from the staff terrace which take in the picturesque setting of the Geelong waterfront.

Wearing the city

KTA’s Fitzroy Sheetmetal Factory is one of seven Melbourne homes to feature in Wearing the City, the annual design studio in which Monash University Art Design and Architecture (MADA) students create costumes inspired by iconic architecture.


This year students took their cues from the shapes, forms and structures of Gottlieb House (Wood Marsh), Lyon Housemuseum, Robin Boyd’s Walsh Street, Roy Grounds’ Hill Street House, Peter McIntyre’s River House and Cassandra Fahey Smith’s Great Aussie Home. A catwalk contest will be held at MPavilion on November 12, with judges including Callum Morton, Naomi Milgrom and Martin Foley. Read about the event in ArchitectureAu.

Competition shortlist

It’s been an exciting week at KTA with the practice being shortlisted for two prestigious competitions.


The first is the Riversdale Design Competition for a series of new buildings at the NSW property, Riversdale, gifted to the Australian people by the late artist Arthur Boyd in 1993. Managed by the Bundanon Trust, Riversdale is one of four sites on a 1100-hectare property captured by Boyd in his celebrated Shoalhaven series. Six practices from around Australia were invited to participate with the winner being announced in December.
The shortlist for Shepparton Art Museum, best known as SAM, has also been announced with five firms, including KTA, being selected from 88 entries for the second stage of the competition. Designs from each firm will be exhibited in January with the winner announced in April.

Parlour Spring Salon

The Parlour Spring Salons got off to a great start on Saturday with KTA’s Kerstin Thompson and Clare Cousins in conversation about the challenges – and advantages – of setting up and leading your own practice, lessons learned, and their shared areas of interest and commitment. Find out more about the series on the Parlour website.
Image: Dianna Snape.

TarraWarra Cellar Door

KTA’s TarraWarra Cellar Door has won itself some international fans following recent coverage in Dezeen, Divisare and Homes, with features also soon to appear in Ignant and Inhabitat.

Parlour at MPavilion

The first of Parlour’s seasonal salons kicks off next week with a conversation between KTA’s Kerstin Thompson and Clare Cousins of Clare Cousins Architects. Supported by Parlour partner AWS, the salons offer an opportunity for “the women of Melbourne architecture to meet, form new networks and relationships”. A glass of wine, a chance for some friendly and robust discussion, and a terrific excuse to check MPavilion 2016, designed by Studio Mumbai’s Bijoy Jain.
When? 4.30pm, Saturday 15 October, Queen Victoria Gardens (opposite the Arts Centre on St Kilda Road), Melbourne. More details here and here.

RMIT Practice Research Symposium 2016

Architecture comes about through the highly contextualized interplay of multiple obligations. What do we do with these obligations when, as frequently happens, they come into conflict? This is where ethics come into play. As part of this year’s RMIT Practice Research Symposium, Kerstin will present a lecture on the ethics of architecture, a topic she first visited as part of the Robin Boyd ethics series in August. Using KTA projects as case studies, she’ll explore how we can both meet and work productively with our multiple obligations towards an ethics of practice. RMIT Design Hub, October 21 @ 6pm.
Image: Mark Roper/Belle


Divisare is the Italian word for designing, planning; literally it means “to devise”. The term was used by Leon Battista Alberti to define the work of the architect. It’s also the title of an online publication founded in 1998. Curated by a team of Italian architects, it describes itself as the Web Atlas for Contemporary Architecture. Last week, the site published an essay on KTA’s award-winning House at Hanging Rock with a series of evocative and very beautiful images by renown photographer Erieta Attali.
Find it here.

Apollo Bay

A roof or wall building? Definitely roof, a big one – that being a definitive feature of this current KTA project along the Great Ocean Road.


Following a “zipper plan”, the dwelling unfurls in a series of rooms off a central spine that runs clear through the building towards the ocean. The floor terraces down the hill whilst the roof gently slopes down such that the lower ceilings at the top of the hill open to larger volumes for living areas and the main bedroom at the lower ocean end. Expansive ocean views are captured in one direction; glimpses of trees and rolling pastures are framed in the other. The design employs a minimalist material palette of concrete blockwork, concrete floor and cement sheeting. Slender steel columns pin the large overhanging roof to the ground. At the dwelling’s heart is a protected courtyard; a retreat in harsh weather and high winds.

Prototyping for Architects

The ways in which architects are combining new digital design and fabrication technologies with traditional hands-on building techniques to test their projects from structural, aesthetic, and technical standpoints forms the focus of this new book by Jane and Mark Burry. Presenting an extensive range of prototyping techniques, it also features a selection of 30 projects by leading contemporary international architects including KTA. Find out more here

Architectural Review

The latest edition of Architectural Review has a new look and a new focus: the Business of Architecture. Among its features is a Brains Trust column that poses the same question to a panel of industry experts. The question for this issue, put to Debbie Ryan of McBride Charles Ryan, Simon Trude of Gensler, Simon Knott of BKK and KTA’s Kerstin Thompson is: Architecture has long been a male dominated industry. Why do you think this is and is it changing? Find yourself a copy and have a read.

Broadmeadows Town Hall

Here’s a sneak peek of our Broadmeadows Town Hall redevelopment. It’s coming along well, don’t you think?


Kerstin speaks to Amelia Melbourne-Hayward at ArchitectureNow about how her early experiences of the built environment inspire the work KTA does today. Also the role of architecture as a civic endeavor that forges meaningful connections between buildings, the people who inhabit them and the community and environments that surround them. Full article here

Architect Victoria Winter 2016

In recent weeks we’ve been approached by a number of clients looking to rebuild holiday homes in Wye River in the aftermath of the Christmas 2015 bushfires. Aside from referring to our own projects, it’s been great to show people the most recent edition of Architect Victoria and its feature on 6×6. Supported by the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, the exhibition featured 6 architects presenting on recent residential projects in bushfire prone areas. Director of Projects Kelley Mackay spoke on House at Big Hill, a bespoke home that embraces and exploits elements of design and finish that work with the BAL ratings rather than seeing them as added extras. Read more here

Where are the women architects?

Picture this: a woman suspended on a swinging beam, nine storeys up, being interviewed about being an architect. The year is 1911 and the woman Fay Kellogg, a trailblazer keen to impress upon both her peers and the public that women are capable of far more than “building closets”. Reconcile that gesture with this fact: In 2015, when Britain’s Architecture Journal asked its readers whether they would encourage a woman to enter the profession only half said yes. Read Kerstin’s full review of Despina Stratigakos’ new book, published in The Age and Sydney Morning Herald last week, here and also in Parlour here.

The Australian

In the latest edition of The Australian’s WISH magazine, Milanda Rout asks Australia’s top architects including Penelope Seidler, Nick Tobias, Camilla Block, Peter Stutchbury, Kerstin Thompson and John Wardle to name their favorite examples of design across the world in three categories: historical, contemporary and off the beaten track. Kerstin’s favorites include Hotel Therme Vals, Switzerland and the Lurujarri Heritage Trail in the Kimberley, Western Australia. Read more here.


TarraWarra Cellar door has been shortlisted for both the Eat Drink Design Awards and the IDEA Interior Design Excellence Awards. Combining an Australian landscape setting with the subterranean intimacy and the delight of a European wine cellar, the project’s brief was to invite visitors into the winemaking process. This is achieved through a series of framed viewlines within the building: to a heritage block of Pinot Noir vines, to a wine production apron, to the barrels and to shelves housing vintages from the winery’s first harvest. Together these glimpses compose a cycle of wine production from grape to glass.

AIA Flexible Spaces

This week Kerstin presented at the Australian Institute of Architects event, Flexible Spaces. Questions underpinning talks and discussion included: How are buildings and spaces created to be changed or adapted? How are public spaces designed to promote movement and why does it matter? Speakers were invited to explore buildings and spaces that have been created with change in mind to meet the needs of users. While Kerstin spoke on KTA’s recent work at Deakin University, fellow speakers included Diego Fullaondo, Des Smith and SJB’s Amanda Roberts. The event was chaired by Sandy Law.

DoubleTALK Speaker Series


Last week in Sydney Kerstin spoke at DoubleTALK, the new Australia-wide Speaker Series curated by renowned Sydney-based architect Stephen Varady. Developed to showcase the work of Australia’s best architects, each event engages two speakers with presentations framed around projects and their “back stories”, from client brief and site description to design and construction process and completed work. Kerstin spoke on projects including House at Lake Connewarre, MUMA and Big Hill House ahead of Brit Andresen, professor emeritus at the University of Queensland. For details visit here

21st Century Art Museums


KTA’s Monash University Museum of Art is in good company in Georgia Lindsay’s new book, The User Perspective on Twenty-First Century Art Museums. Published by Routledge, it also features chapters on New York’s New Museum of Contemporary Art (by SANAA), Rome’s National Museum of XXI Century Arts (MAXXI, by Zaha Hadid Architecture) and Antwerp’s Museum aan de Stroom (by Neutelings Riedijk Architects). Surveying 14 museums from the US, Europe, China and Australia, it concludes with a chapter on lessons learned and a critical assessment of 21st Century museum architecture.

Looking Up


Who says a ceiling can’t be a source of great beauty? Here’s an image of our current residential project in Melbourne’s eastern suburbs. Situated on a property with views across Melbourne’s north-east toward the Kinglake Ranges, the greater part of the house sits beneath a draped, timber-lined ceiling. The curved roof hangs low as you enter, rising as you progress through the house to reach its greatest volume over the living areas. The dwelling’s palette of timber and exposed brickwork is simple so as not to detract from the impact of its internal spaces. The project is due for completion later this year.

Yellowtrace profile


While the work of KTA has featured in the pages of online design publication Yellowtrace on numerous occasions, the latest profile piece on Kerstin gives great insight into the practice’s philosophy around the role of architecture in our everyday lives; how what it can do is just as important as what it looks like. The piece also provides a comprehensive overview of KTA’s work and the diversity of our projects. Check it out here

The Weekly Review


As Claire Kennedy writes in this week’s Weekly Review, “new apartment development has skyrocketed in Melbourne since 2009 and their quality has become a hot topic. Apartments now make up nearly one-third of all new dwellings approved across the state and it is predicted that more than 35,000 apartments will be built across Melbourne between 2015 and 2017.” Which begs the question: what makes a good apartment? Claire’s piece surveys the nine projects shortlisted in the apartment and unit-design category of this year’s Houses Awards, including KTA’s Flinders Lane Apartment. The qualities of a good apartment, for Kerstin, include “natural light, access to fresh air and cross-ventilation, a visual aspect and outlook, even if the view is of a constructed environment, as well as a sense of openness and spaciousness, regardless of the apartment’s size”. Read more here.

Spark Festival


The Spark International Festival of Media, Arts, and Design is an annual week-long event hosted by the School of Media Arts on the Waikato Institute of Technology’s city campus in Hamilton, New Zealand. Now in its 18th year, the festival brings together creative minds both local and international for a program of lectures, exhibitions, workshops and events involving contemporary arts, media, music and design. Its goal is to foster conversations and thinking between students, local industry partners and the creative community. As part of this year’s program, Kerstin will present a talk on August 10. The festival runs August 8-12, see details

Wye River Bushfire Rebuild


Director of Projects Kelley Mackay last week visited Wye River to speak at 6×6, an exhibition commissioned by the Office of the Victorian Government Architect, curated by Edwards Moore Architects and supported by Department of Environment, Land, Water & Planning, the Victorian Building Authority and the Colac-Otway Shire. The event featured six selected “Case Study” houses by architects including KTA, Ian Weir, Edwards Moore, MRTN Architects, Jackson Clements Burrows and Archiblox in the Wye River & Separation Creek area. Its purpose was to help residents think about re-build processes, approaches and materials following the Christmas Day fires last year in which so many people lost their homes. Kelley presented a recent build, House at Big Hill, through a series of models and plans, discussing its BAL rating, site constraints, client brief, lessons learned and bushfire resistant design features. The event will be repeated in Melbourne in July.

Windsor Spa


Here’s an early sketch of our new spa project at the Windsor Hotel. Inspired by Roman baths and rituals of bathing, the design traces a pathway from tepidarium to caldarium, with individual spaces framed by vaulted arches and fringed by niches. What is created is a subterranean sanctuary that is a world unto itself.

Ethics of Architecture


Beginning later this month the Robin Boyd Foundation will host a series of talks based on the ethics of architecture – a topic that encompasses everything from the smallest day-to-day decisions architects make to the grander idea of architecture’s contribution to the way our cities work and enhance our lives. Speakers will include Richard Wynne, Minister for Planning, ethicist, theologian + strategic advisor Rufus Black, Studio Mumbai’s Bijoy Jain, philosopher John Armstrong and architects Andrew Maynard, Michael Markham and Esther Charlesworth. KTA’s Kerstin Thompson will speak on August 23. For details visit the Robin Boyd Foundation website

South Sea


Here’s a recent photo from a site visit to our current residential build on the Mornington Peninsula. Situated on a property with dramatic views across Western Port, the house comprises a series of lightweight pods arranged in a pinwheel around a central terrace. Elevated to capture views of the water and treetops with an emphasis on creating a sense of flow between interior and exterior spaces, the house’s material focus is on cement sheet and timber referencing the original fibro beach shacks of the area. The project is due for completion later this year.

Jule House


As Naomi Stead writes in The Conversation, one of the very first pieces of advice you receive in architecture school is Never Work For Family. But sometimes it pays to throw caution to the wind, as KTA architect Claire Humphreys shows with her Jule House. Built for her mother, it won the Brisbane House of the Year 2015 in the AIA awards. Back in March Claire spoke about the project at an Asia Pacific Architecture Forum discussion. Read more about it in ArchitectureAU.

National Architecture Conference


At this year’s AIA National Architecture Conference Kerstin was part of a lively panel discussion with Sandra Kaji-O’Grady, Timothy Hill, Charles Rice, Thomas Fisher and Nasrine Seraji. Titled How Soon Is Now? the conference brought together “people, practices and projects addressing the future, investigating resilience, society, equity and agency”. Its aim was to establish a discourse that empowers architects “to actively participate in the massive transformations that are occurring to cities, to global as well as local societies, and to the sustainability of our planet”.

Guide Hill


One perk of being an architect is visiting sites in breathtakingly beautiful locations. Here are Kerstin and Chris Kelly of Architecture Workshop in New Zealand on the South Island visiting a potential resort site. If you look closely you can see the jagged outline of Aoraki beyond the alpine lake.

Broadmeadows Town Hall


KTA yesterday won the contract for the Broadmeadows Town Hall Redevelopment, a project that will revitalise the cultural heart of Broadmeadows and provide a focus and gathering place for its culturally diverse and rapidly growing population. The project is due for completion in 2018.

Jewish Holocaust Museum


KTA’s design winning entry for the new Jewish Holocaust Centre has now progressed to return brief stage. The design imagines a space for educating students and visitors about the Holocaust, placing the experience of survivors and their stories at its heart.

Arranged over several levels, the centre will incorporate several museums and auditoriums, a research centre and memorial garden. It is imagined, borrowing the words of Elaine Heumann Gurian, as a place of life.

University of Sydney PhD Graduands


“Does a good student make a good practitioner? Not necessarily. But a good practitioner is always a mighty fine student.” Pictured here with University of Sydney Pro-Chancellor, Mrs Dorothy Hoddinott AO, and Professor John Redmond, Dean of the Faculty of Architecture, Design and Planning, Kerstin this week presented the occasional address for graduands in the Masters of Architecture as well as postgraduate degrees in architectural science, design computing and urban and regional planning.

The Lyceum Club, Melbourne


At the time of its opening, the Lyceum Club and its post-Modernist architecture represented an exciting time in the professional advancement of women. KTA’s work involves the substantial revitalisation of amenities and ambience to attract new members and accommodate a greater range and scale of events.

The addition of a fourth floor “garden room” will feature a multi-function area that works in harmony with the original Ellison Harvie design, heralding a new era for the club.

Punch Lane Pop up


Our design for Honcho, chef Adam Liston’s new pop up restaurant in Punch Lane, is inspired by the form of a floating lantern. Scheduled to open in September, the 60-seat Korean-Japanese-Chinese restaurant takes its name from the Japanese word “hancho” meaning leader of the pack.

Mention of it has already made the pages of The Age’s Good Food, Broadsheet and Concrete Playground. All we can say is: yum.

Deakin University/A+B


KTA’s refurbishment of Deakin University’s School of Architecture and Built Environment/A+B is now complete. The brief involved reconfiguring the internal layout of the school to reflect a more teaching focussed/student centred approach. This new open arrangement enables a recalibration of character towards inclusiveness and friendliness.

Housed in a significant historical building on the Geelong waterfront, the project involved uncovering features of the original woolsheds including beams, clerestory windows and columns and making them a highlight of the new design. Staff and students moved in during March.

Jock Comini Rest Area


Last year KTA won a VicRoads Design Competition for Jock Comini Rest Stop Reserve. Our concept aims to bring delight and an appreciation of landscape to the rest stop experience. Light filled, airy and pleasant, the design sits in deliberate contrast to the typically dark and dank public toilet experience. Skirted by ancient red gums and walking paths for those looking to stretch their legs, the facilities are sensitively integrated among the trees, granitic boulders and memorials. We’ll be starting on site later this year.

Abbotsford Convent


Look familiar? It should. Home to 100 studios, two galleries, cafes, a band room, an outdoor cinema, a radio station, a school, and skirted by beautiful gardens, Abbotsford Convent is Australia’s largest multi-arts precinct.

KTA is currently undertaking the refurbishment of Sacred Heart, a project that’s involved reflecting on the historical significance of a site that once provided refuge for women and young girls and reimagining it as a place of gathering, creativity, learning and festivities.

TarraWarra Cellar Door


Crafted from textured concrete with timber highlights and furniture hewn from recycled fence posts, the recently opened TarraWarra Cellar Door in the Yarra Valley delivers visitors, seated amid wine bottles and barrels, to the heart of the estate’s winemaking culture. Photos of Kerstin on site were published in the March edition of Belle magazine.

Sunbury Community & Arts Precinct


KTA last week completed its Master Plan for the Sunbury Community & Arts Precinct. The plan reimagines this historically significant site as a lively and dynamic arts and cultural centre for both locals and visitors alike, and provides scope for a range of activities including artist studios, exhibitions, music festivals, community gatherings, workshops and classes.

VCA School of Art


Our exciting project converting the Former Mounted Police Stables at Southbank into studios and exhibition spaces for VCA’s School of Art is currently at contract documentation stage. The project involves the adaptive re-use of this historic building into a range of adaptable and flexible installation, performance, academic and administration for the school.

It seeks to integrate the school within the Southbank Campus while also conserving the site’s significant cultural and built heritage.