Type to search

Getting to know IDEA Residential Multi winner Carr

Getting to know IDEA Residential Multi winner Carr


Carr took home the Residential Multi trophy at the 2023 Interior Design Excellence Awards (IDEA) for 835 High Street, a refined apartment complex located on a busy Armadale thoroughfare.

It’s the second year in a row that the Melbourne-based interior design and architecture studio – known for a timeless design approach – has been crowned in this category.

Featuring a unique architectural language, 835 High Street includes 26 residences and one penthouse shaped by a distinctive grid pattern. Every horizontal and vertical frame aligns perfectly from the outside over five levels, one on top of the other in a linear pattern.

835 High Street

Skillful manipulation of space and light characterises this elegant residential development, according to IDEA 2023 jury member Byron George.

“The designers successfully balanced the dichotomy between the regularity and strength of form, and the loose, casual and calm flow of spaces it frames,” he says. 

Australian Design Review (ADR) caught up with the project lead and Carr associate director, Stephen McGarry, to find out how 835 High Street came together and what exciting projects are on the horizon for 2024.

Tongue & Groove’s Daniel Ryan presented Nick Carr and Stephen McGarry with the Residential Multi award at the IDEA Gala. Photo: Narrative Post
ADR: What did it mean for you to win the IDEA Residential Multi category?

Stephen McGarry: Recognition in such an important category was an honour, especially considering the level of competition from our peers over the past 12 months. As a strong sector within the practice, multi-residential opportunities balance the lessons from our bespoke residential projects and the commerciality of larger-scale developments. It’s crucial to give clients confidence in the design being put forward, but also to ensure that it can be executed within budget and from a construction methodology perspective.

835 High Street
Tell us about your winning project. What was its inspiration and how did you achieve the outcome that you did?

From the conception of 835 High Street, an essential part of the architectural outcome was intensely studying the fine-grain neighbourhood character in the local vicinity. In studying the craftsmanship and proportions of the many heritage façades along High Street, a finely detailed and consistent vocabulary was developed to be appropriate to the existing context. Given the strong retail and food and beverage offerings along High Street in Armadale, the consistency of the structural grid above street level continues to the ground plane to unify and establish a complete street presence for users and passers-by.

835 High Street

A muted and monochromatic material palette for both the architecture and interiors was established early within the concept to allow the building to comfortably sit within its locale. With the concrete structure complemented solely with large expanses of glass, 835 High Street reads as a neighbourhood building within the changing warmth of the internal illumination.

How would you describe 2023?

Industry-wide, it has been a challenging year workwise, however from a personal perspective, the birth of my son Emmet was an absolute highlight. I also made my first batch of wine from a block of vines, which is an ever-evolving new hobby!

835 High Street
What’s next for you? Can you share any upcoming or current projects?

For the studio, we are finishing up many interesting projects across all typologies and scales, including a future-ready workplace for Salta Properties, a hospitality venture in Sorrento, some bespoke residential projects, and several major multi-residential projects onsite.

Personally, I am looking forward to the completion of my project 116 Rokeby in Collingwood, Melbourne. This is a commercial project conceived a few months before the pandemic, but one that envisages the ‘wellness’ of its inhabitants in its totality. Whether it is natural light, outlook, biophilic design or fresh circulation, 116 Rokeby’s passive design measures prove you can achieve sustainability at any size.

835 High Street
How did you wrap up 2023?

The Christmas break came around pretty quickly and I tidied up any loose ends ahead of a big 2024. I also celebrated with colleagues at the Christmas party in one of our hospitality projects in Sorrento with some terrible dance moves – none more than my own!

Lead image by Gavin Green. Project photography Rory Gardiner.

Get to know the IDEA Workplace Under 1000sqm winner Smart Design Studio.


Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *