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EditorialLiving Well

What is Gippsland's design language?

Architect, Isley Sutherland explains that it's an exciting time for design in Gippsland.

Jul 20, 2021


Words: Isley Sutherland
Images: Nicky Cawood

On a grey Sunday at the end of March, Meeniyan Square hosted a collection of design conversations centred around ‘care, community and climate’ as part of the Future Thinking Lunch Experience — a collaboration between Meeniyan architect Isley Sutherland of IS architecture and Meeniyan restaurant Trulli Kitchen.

While listening to the insights of two award-winning architects — Talina Edwards of Talina Edwards Architecture from Ballarat and Antony Martin of MRTN Architects from Melbourne — guests enjoyed a delicious three-course lunch of local Gippsland produce prepared by Trulli Kitchen. The space was styled to the themes of the event, including an art installation created by Sarah Parkes of Small Towns, and talented local musician Aaron Lopez-Freeman rounded out the welcoming ambience.

The event coincided with Melbourne Design Week and explored the future of design practice and ideas in architecture and the built environment. What follows are some of the insights gleaned from the day’s thoroughly engaging discussions.

“Gippsland’s emerging character is increasingly responding to the natural environment of the region..."


1 — There are exciting bridges to be built within the local and metropolitan design communities.

Gippsland is growing in popularity and is appreciated for its natural environment and developing cultural scene. Metropolitan architects, designers and construction industry professionals are increasingly aware of the opportunities that the region presents for their profession, and our wonderful natural setting and enviable lifestyle.

The event was a unique opportunity for the local architectural industry to be strengthened by making more connections and engagement across the disciplines of building and designing.

Clear feedback was that more Gippsland-based events are desired to build more opportunities for sharing knowledge and collaborating within the profession. We hope to see you at the next inspiring soiree.

2 — Is a new Gippsland design language emerging?

Part of Gippsland’s emerging character is increasingly responding to the natural environment of the region and using this as inspiration to orientate people within the landscape and create connections to the local context.

Considerations for building in Gippsland include our specific local climate, vistas and views of our distinctive landscape, orientation for solar benefits and ventilation. Gippsland’s country and coastal environs offer unique and local opportunities for narratives and inspiration for architectural works.

Antony Martin of MRTN Architects spoke of how the Hide House at Venus Bay was inspired by local bird hides and the idea of nestling within the landscape, creating a protected viewing frame from which to inhabit. Architects are finding inspiration and storylines directly from the beautiful landscape of Gippsland to inform their designs of buildings. The resultant buildings integrate into the landscape, rather than dominate; they enhance, rather than detract from nature’s beautiful surroundings. Biophilic design recognises that our connection to nature is a fundamental human need and crucial for our wellness.

We’re seeing increasingly high-quality designed buildings being created in Gippsland. As Gippsland has a relatively young built environment, there is a real and exciting opportunity to build a more sustainable and beautiful future for all Gippslandians.

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3 — How could future Gippsland homes or buildings be designed?

The architecture of a place is marked with the character of the community that built it, and architecture can also influence and shape the communities that it serves.

A ‘care’ mentality within design takes into account the emotional needs of the inhabitants as well as their physical needs. A building designed and built with care nurtures those inside and creates a refuge from which to experience the greater world.

Caring for the climate and our future also calls us to design more energy-efficient buildings, to reuse what we have and source responsible materials with which to build. Talina Edwards of Talina Edwards Architecture shared her knowledge of the internationally recognised Passivhaus standard, which is one way of achieving a superior level of comfort within a building whilst reducing the ongoing environmental impacts of living. Is it an enticing path forwards that more Gippslandian buildings could explore?

4 — Design can be better appreciated when enjoying amazing food.

Good design connects us to all our senses, and what better way to strengthen our relationships than over the experience of a shared table abundant with local produce beautifully prepared?

Trulli Kitchen was born out of the belief that food and drink should nourish the body, mind and soul.

Working with their local producers affords Trulli Kitchen a distinctive opportunity to embrace an Italian take on Gippsland produce. Sharing wholesome fare, sourced locally, better connects the guests to the region and fosters meaningful relationships. Engaging discussions, hearty food and new connections; this is la bella vita, the Trulli way of life.

5 — Event setting

Gippsland has its own distinctive natural beauty, and we wanted the event styling and atmosphere to reflect this local aesthetic with a straw-covered floor and table settings that drew inspiration from the agricultural surroundings. This was further enhanced through the use of local grasses in a rope installation by artist Sarah Parkes of Small Towns. The work combined rope weaving with two varieties of grass to create an impressive centrepiece to the event.

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Gippslandia - Issue No. 19

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