Australian Design Review chats with Stephen McGarry

9 January 2024
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Following 835 High Street winning the Residential Multi award at the 2023 IDEA Gala last November, Associate Director Stephen McGarry sits down with Australian Design Review to discuss the project and what’s in store for the studio in 2024.

Stephen accepting the IDEA trophy at the Gala last year.

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.


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

SM: 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.

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 was 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!
Carr worked with landscape architect Acre Studio to design balconies that accommodate beautiful garden outlooks from bedrooms, bathrooms, and living spaces.
The apartment planning process was underpinned by biophilic design principles and the desire to provide each home with axis to external views and ventilation.

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

SM: 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.


How did you wrap up 2023?

SM: 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!