Challenging Urban Design: Cambodian Temple-Inspired Home

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The ancient ruins of Angkor Wat – the largest religious temple in the world, have inspired Sydney architect Drew Heath to create a house inspired by its archaic wild beauty. Just last month the unique construction won the 2013 National Award for Architecture in the residential category.

Dubbed the venerable Irish name Tír na nÓg (“land of youth”), the building mimics the overgrown outlying of the fist Hindu temple. Once a worker’s cottage, today turned into a magnificent construction – the dwelling received Atralia’s most prestigious acknowledgement for exceptional design the 2013 Wilkinson Award for Residential Architecture from the NSW Australian Institute of Architects.

Situated in McMahon’s Point – one of Sydney’s most prominent suburbs, Tír na nÓg is an extraordinary example of green urban design.

Situated on a quiet street in one of Sydney’s most luxurious suburbs, Tír na nÓg boasts natural bamboo fences and thick foliage to recreate the abandoned beauty of Angkor Wat – the temple lost in the jungle’s heart. Just like the ancient city, the property seems lost in the omnibus greenery.

Drew Heath, the designer of the building and owner of Drew Heath Architects, was so fascinated by the Cambodia’s top tourist attraction that he decided to take on the challenge of recreating the solitude of the forgotten ruins in one of Sydney’s most densely populated suburbs – McMahon’s Point. Despite the ambitiousness of the project both jury and public agreed he has succeeded. With its unique floor plan and greenery overflowing the landscape, the house looks both insulated from the rest of the suburb and like an inseparable part of it.

The home features several bedrooms and sleeping areas which can host up to 12 people. The old cottage’s backyard has been turned into a sunlit summer pavilion connected to the main building via a central garden. Tír na nÓg’s kitchen is spacious and can be further extended to the garden thanks to the floor-to-ceiling sliding glass panels. It also connects to a contemporary reading room. Indoor and outdoor spaces (including the garden, the bamboo fences and the rooms) all tumble over 12 different levels making the layered design of the building truly extraordinary.

With natural sunlight penetrating every level of the house and the unique garden-centred arrangement along with the summer/ winter bathrooms make Tír na nÓg stands to prove why Australia’s exceptional urban architecture is world-widely recognised. Challenging urban design should always be rewarded!

Author: Sam

Samantha Winterland (Sam) is the owner and creator of Best Home Ideas. Having graduated from the Withehouse Institute of Design Australia, she has devoted her blog to exploring the latest innovations in interior design. Sam admits she loves everything DIY and is always ready to face a new challenge.

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  1. Wow, love the bathroom, what are those tiles?

    Post a Reply
    • Hey Nikki,

      I am happy you liked the house. Sadly, I can only guess about the bathroom tiles. No one seems to have mentioned them anywhere in the resources I used. However, they do seem like ceramic tiles to me 🙂

      Sorry, I couldn’t have been of more help 🙂

      Post a Reply

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