When Madeleine Blanchfield won a competition to design a large home in 2009, she decided to leave the comfort of her job at BKH and go out on her own. With luck and skill on her side, what may have been a big jump into the deep end proved a great success, with Madeleine taking out the Australian Institute of Architects Award for The Gordons Bay House.
“The Gordons Bay House was a perfect storm of builder, client and site. It was well received by everyone and the calmness of the process seemed to show through in the end result. Winning for that house and getting the acknowledgment of industry peers was very special, particularly when other projects in the competition were by more established architects.”
Five years on, Madeleine Blanchfield Architects now has three full-time staff and a handful of contractors. She prefers to take on less work and instead be very involved in each project. “I like to do all aspects of a project myself, particularly when it is a house. The cohesion of landscape, furniture and space is critical and we have the client to spice up the result each time.”
Working primarily in residential, with some small commercial fit-out projects in between, Madeleine’s aesthetic is timeless, elegant and pared-back. Rather than her projects making a purely architectural statement, her main focus is working with each individual site and trying to make the best use of the space, its light, outlook and other characteristics.
This design style is very clear throughout her work, especially in her initial project, The Gordons Bay House, with the bathroom winning the House & Garden Room of the Year 2013. “Winning Room of the Year was amazing. The ladies at the magazine saw the room in a builder’s brochure and put it in, so winning was very unexpected!”
With several new houses, a couple of renovations, a small office building and some interiors projects on the cards, Madeleine and the team are very busy. But she’s certainly not complaining! “Being a designer is not without its challenges but we should be thankful that we love what we do and we have lots of it. That is the real luxury.”