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IDEA Retrospective: Paul Morgan Architects


All photography by Peter Bennetts.

This piece is part of an IDEA retrospective series of interviews and articles conducted and written by local CATC interior design students, which will feature in the coming weeks in the lead up to the IDEA 2014 event and anticipated release of the book Life Spaces: Live Work Connect.

For a 400-page limited edition hardback book of this year’s IDEA winners, order your copy of Life Spaces: Live Work Connect.

Melbourne-based Paul Morgan Architects have a history of success at IDEA, taking out awards in both the Residential (Single) category and Overall Winner of IDEA 2007. 

Photo by Peter Bennetts.

Photography by Peter Bennetts.

Conducting research to mark the 10th anniversary of the IDEA Awards, it was interesting to see how winning such an award laid the foundations for projects to go on to gain further credibility and notoriety. The project Cape Schanck House by Paul Morgan Architects is one of these examples. At the 2007 IDEA Awards, this project not only won the Best Residential Interior, but also was voted the Overall Winner by the panel of judges.

Paul Morgan mentioned that this project later went on to win the National Royal Australian Institute of Architects Robin Boyd Award for Residential Architecture and in his own words it is, “the premier residential architecture award in Australia.”

Photography by Peter Bennetts.

Photography by Peter Bennetts.


The feedback and reception of this project was very positive and was one of only forty nominated internationally for the Zumtobel Group Award that honours outstanding sustainable solutions in Architecture and Humanity. The Cape Schanck House went on to win the Built Form and Design category at the Victorian Coastal Awards for Excellence and in 2009 was the Winner of Green Good Design Award from The Chicago Athenaeum & The European Centre for Architecture Art, Design & Urban Studies.

The Cape Schanck House is tucked behind rugged cliffs within a coastal terrain of native vegetation in the Mornington Peninsula, susceptible to the unpredictable elements, so a main design influence for the house was the environment. And rather than stripping away the natural vegetation, Morgan worked around it and also introduced local, indigenous plants. The environmentally conscious abode went on to feature in many Architecture, Design & Lifestyle articles pertaining to issues such as sustainability, eco design, designing with an environmental conscience and designing for the future.

Photography by Peter Bennetts.

Photography by Peter Bennetts.


The main focal point of the house is the curvaceous, oversized internal water tank that is in the middle of the Living room, which flows down from the ceiling. It helps to keep the area cool during the Summer, supplying rain water and structurally supporting the roof load. The construction of the tank involved the builder, Drew Head, a structural engineer, a civil engineer, a steel fabricator and a plumber. The main concerns were getting the sweeping curves just right. Wind is used to act as a thermal device on the South elevation, trapping the cooling winds and providing necessary shade.

The House once acted as an exhibition space – The Schanck Show – asking respected Melbourne artists such as David Noonan, Renee So and Damiano Bertoli to respond to the architecture. The land was purchased in 2002 and remains a private ‘weekender’ of Paul Morgan, but is also available to be rented out for an unforgettable coastal experience. No changes have been made to the structure since completion, only the necessary maintenance required due to the harsh coastal conditions.

Written by Jessica Viscarde.


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