Tony Chenchow and Stephanie Little belong to a crowded field of husband-and-wife architectural practices in Australia. Like their better-known counterparts Lindsay and Kerry Clare or the infrequent collaborators Glenn Murcutt and Wendy Lewin, the two have distinguished themselves with a collection of residential projects that sensitively respond to the Australian climate and architectural and social traditions. But unlike Murcutt or the Clares, Chenchow and Little have established a critical practice that directly engages the overwhelmingly suburban status of the population.
“I think the perception of Australian residential architecture is that it’s all in a bush setting,” Chenchow says, using the local term for “rural.” “In reality, it’s quite different, with more than 75 percent of homes in suburban locations.” Chenchow and Little met when they were both studying at the University of New South Wales in Sydney. He’s from western Sydney, and she grew up in the country in New South Wales. Once they both had graduated, in 1994, they worked together occasionally but often practiced separately in contract to larger firms before finally establishing their own practice in 2004 in Sydney. “I dislike suburbia, so it’s something we try to question, to strategically look at the traditional model and create alternatives,” says Chenchow.