Aussie Prime Minister's 'lodge' has NZ touch

Last updated 05:00 24/05/2013
Australian prime ministers 'lodge'

SERENE SPACE: New Zealand architects Nick Roberts, Jack Davies and Henry Stephens' entry for a hypothetical residence for Australia's prime minister.

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It seems Kiwis are better than Australians at designing their prime minister's house.

Three young Kiwi architects - who met at Victoria University in Wellington - have won A$80,000 (NZ$96,000) after their design for a new Australian prime ministerial residence was chosen ahead of more than 200 others.

The competition to design a new "Lodge on the Lake" was run by the University of Canberra as part of the city's centenary celebrations.

The contest was hypothetical - there are no plans for the prime minister to leave the 40-room mansion built in 1927.

Nick Roberts, Jack Davies and Henry Stephens' entry was described as "casual yet imposing" by judges.

The house had to include features such as a "defensible family refuge" for emergencies, a private study for the prime minister, a secure communications centre capable of holding 10, and space to display artworks.

Mr Roberts said mixing domestic life with public functions was an interesting challenge, and the team tried to fit the house to its location.

"We were interested in exploring Australian architecture and tried to look back to how early settlers saw the landscape ... we wanted a building which engaged with the topography of the site."

Designing a panic room for the prime minister's family was one unusual aspect of the challenge, he said.

"It's a public space but also has this paranoia and security that public figures have to deal with today.

"We located [the panic room] under the ceremonial entrance ... it was quite bizarre but necessary, and we didn't want to treat it lightly."

The house also had to incorporate a boat house and jetty on Lake Burley Griffin, a tennis court and swimming pool.

The architects did not find it hard to engage with Australia despite coming from New Zealand.

"All New Zealanders feel some sort of affinity with Australia - it didn't factor into it at all."

Mr Roberts, 26, is a graduate architect at Athfield Architects, while Mr Davies and Mr Stephens practise in Melbourne and Copenhagen.

The prizemoney would go towards paying off his student loan and possibly some travel, he said.

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- The Dominion Post

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