The Tim Ross Effect

When Paul Owen was engaged to design Balgownie II for the LAWRIE family, little did we know it would lead to hosting The Man About The House.

Completed in 2017, Balgownie II went on to win HIA’s QLD Spec Home of the Year. It continued to be a Finalist for HIA’s AU Spec Home of the Year but what we remember most fondly is how it led to an evening with Tim Ross.

In this journal, we interview Tim to seek a deeper understanding of why, five years later, we still thrum with the passion he inspired within us when Balgownie II hosted the Peregian Beach leg of The Man About The House.

An Architecturally Inspired Life

Tim identifies growing up in the Victorian beachside suburb of Mt Eliza as the culprit in sparking his fascination for design and architecture.

‘I was surrounded by some really incredible mid-century architecture by some of the greats of the period. This got me jazzed on architecture for life.’

These surroundings fostered his interest in Australian history, architecture and how they intertwined from a young age. This spark became, as he put it, ‘a passion that spiralled out of control.’

Over time, Tim carved a path that intertwined his affinity for bringing people together and architectural design. Tim explains he ‘started performing in architecturally significant homes, making documentaries, and now it’s become my career.’

The Australian Institute of Architecture has recognised Tim’s singular contribution to the field, first through 2019’s National President’s Prize, then later in 2022 when he was welcomed as an honorary member.

The Modern Man

Tim’s drive to share the underpinning significance of these homes stems from his belief in what the movement represents.

‘I think the modern movement is broadly about being progressive, and I think we still have a desire for homes that are full of light and connect with nature.’

The idea of kinship with light and nature is one that resonates with us at LAWRIE. Working with architects like Paul Owen, amongst others, has guided our journey in contributing to the future of timeless, nostalgic design.

Balgownie II architect, Paul Owen, is not only a good friend of Tim’s but also his own architect. Tim said,

‘I fell in love with Brisbane through the work of contemporary architects like Paul, and I think Brissie architecture is so fresh, so inventive, but also, deeply classic.’

Imagine capturing the essence of an entire city within a singular design. One only has to look at one of Paul’s designs to see how it resonates with Tim’s connection to the modernist movement.


Across his works, you find underpinning threads of nostalgia, appreciation, and celebration of the framework within which we experience the novelties of life.

‘I believe architecture has a spirit that can elevate us all, and that what we build ultimately builds us.’

Nostalgia underpins the preface of one of his current projects, Motel: ‘They (motels) are symbols of a fun and easy childhood when family holidays were everything.’

We’re starting to see a familiar trend across those we get the opportunity to sit down with – they’ve all woven their various passions and skills to make something completely unique and very much their own.  Motel, for example, began as a song, come live show, then book to now, a touring exhibition.

While series The Man About the House has come to an end, Tim’s exploration of classic Australian architecture has not. He confessed to being a lifelong student, saying,

‘I’m always listening and learning and it’s a constant process. I’m not trained in any design by any shape or form, but I’m always keen to know more.’

Lately, The Mid Century Project, a collaboration between himself, Kit Warhurst, and mid-century homes is set to tour the country.

Tim’s drive to cultivate appreciation for modernist architecture is catching; in speaking with him, it’s hard not to be around him and not make his passion your own. At LAWRIE, we feel similarly about the work we do. We see every project as a new opportunity to fold deeper into our love with architectural design.

Through the Balgownie II project, we were given the gift of reconnecting to the history behind modern design and time with those who understand the principles of paying attention to the elements that touch our human need for meaning, light, and nature.