Office MI—JI on the exposure that comes with winning an award

Millie Anderson and Jimmy Carter of Office MI—JI began working together around 10 years ago. Coming from different backgrounds and following different career paths, each spent time working and living abroad – Jimmy in Chicago and Millie in London – before returning to Australia to complete their award-winning AB House.

Office MI—JI come at their projects with an openness “to the many different formalities of architecture”. “Just because you’ve done something one way, doesn’t mean you can’t do another,” Millie and Jimmy say.

They pride themselves on looking at problems with different perspectives. And, while they both have their own strengths (Jimmy is quite detail and delivery oriented, while Millie has had more front end experience), they still do everything together: “We’re a young emerging practice, we have that luxury of being able to do everything together, and work on projects in a very cooperative manner.”

Winning an (Emerging) Designer Award was, quite simply, an “incredible opportunity”, the pair says. When Office MI—JI received the Residential Project 2023 award, “we didn’t expect it,” they say. “We were honoured and shocked that we won that award.”

The pair received the accolade for their work on AB House, a three-bedroom holiday home which proved complex for its flood management overlay. The way in which the studio tackled this part of the brief has proven to be a key definer for what makes their project so unique.

“We dealt with the flood management overlay by elevating the building off the ground by a perimeter of steel columns, and the end result is what we’re most proud of.”

The house is unique in that it can be closed off, or expanded and opened as the owners wish. To the front of the abode is a one-bedroom apartment, perfect for a couple. Out back are two self-contained bedrooms, a sitting area and bathrooms for visiting guests.

The front verandah entrance, raised and facing the street, makes for a beautiful spot to sit and watch the sunset and the activity on the street beyond.

Office MI—JI took a passive architectural approach, ensuring orientations were appropriate, eaves were long (to block out sun), and cross ventilation was plentiful. They also point to “selective openings along the south of the site to allow the prevailing winds to enter in at certain times and hot air to move upward through the void and operable skylight.”

Materiality played an important role with hardy industrial materials of corrugated fibre glass and corrugated galvanised steel forming a large part of the home’s envelope. “It’s an architectural approach we’re both interested in. It wasn’t just a budget consideration for us, it was very much an aesthetic consideration.”

Winning an (Emerging) Designer Award has had a big impact on Office MI—JI’s business. “Because we are young and emerging, having that exposure is so important for us as a small business,” they say.

“The Local Project offers a different audience to other architectural media” – and having that broader exposure has proved beneficial for the duo. “It surely played a part in receiving enquiries purely from our media coverage,” they say.

It’s a win-win effect that builds “confidence in who you are and what you have to offer”, while also paving the way for business growth, too.

Office MI—JI’s project, AB House won the Residential Project 2023 – watch the video feature.

Entries for the 2024 awards are now open, enter here.

Words by Alice Blackwood
AB House project photography by Ben Hosking