Troppo Architects

Troppo Architects is an Australian architectural practice with the aim of promoting good tropical architecture in Australia's Top End. The practice was founded in 1980 in Darwin with the aid of a Northern Territory grant to examine the history of the region's architecture.[1]

The practice has established offices in six Australian locations, (Darwin, Adelaide, Fremantle, Launceston, Sydney and Byron Bay), and has completed projects in Africa, Asia and the Pacific. "It has a reputation for spare intelligent architecture that has evolved out of the architects' feeling for tradition and landscape. Not least, their buildings are designed for the climate."[1]


In the late 1970s, Phil Harris and Adrian Welke were two young Adelaide-raised Bachelor of Architecture students. In 1978, their final year of undergraduate study, they collaborated on the publication of "Influences in Regional Architecture", Australia's first history of architecture outside the urban arena.[2]

Troppo Architects was founded in 1980 by Harris and Welke, whose early careers had taken them to Darwin. The practice commenced with the aid of an NT Government history grant to research (and eventually define and publicise) the History of Tropical Housing in Australia's Top End. The practice had a slow start, but gained momentum when they were successful in a Low Cost House Competition organised by the City of Darwin, and they were engaged to build a prototype of their design. The prototype was economical to build, climatically comfortable to live in, easy to extend, and also uses little energy. In its first decade, the practice refined and extended its skill in addressing the architectural requirements of the "Top End", gaining a wide range of work, including with remote aboriginal communities. Their approach has been applied to projects in: the Kimberley, Perth, Esperance, and inland WA; Adelaide, coastal, rural and far-northern SA; Melbourne and Victoria; Alice Springs and the Centre; Townsville, and north and far north Queensland; and most recently, inland and north-coast NSW.[2]

In 1987, the practice was selected by the Gagudju Community, administrators of the Kakadu National Park, to design some park facilities. Joining together with Glenn Murcutt, the collaboration was (to quote Murcutt) "highly productive". The work lead to international critical acclaim, and a number of important commissions. The practice spread out across Australia: Phil Harris opened an office in Adelaide in 1999, and Adrian Welke opened an office Perth, leaving the original office in the hands of Dan Connolly.[2]

Since 2010, Troppo has been run by five partners spread out across Australia: Greg MacNamara (Darwin), Geoff Clark (Launceston), Terry O'toole (Queensland: Brisbane & Townsville), Phil Harris (Adelaide), Adrian Welke (Perth) and Dan Connolly (Byron Bay). They work with a team of around twenty people and regularly collaborate with well-known architects such as Danny Wong, Glenn Murcutt, Phil Tait & Shane Thompson.[2]


Troppo's founding directors are Phil Harris (Adelaide) and Adrian Welke (Perth). Other directors are : Emily Van Eyk (Perth); Jo Best (Darwin); Cary Duffield (Adelaide); Greg Norman (Sydney); Geoff Clark (Launceston): Sue Harper (Byron Bay) and Terry O'toole (Queensland: Brisbane & Townsville) .

Former directors are Kieran Knott, Richard Layton, Fiona Hogg and Luke Ellery

Selected projects

  • Top End Hotel, Darwin, 1998
  • RAIA (NT) President's Award for Recycled Buildings, 1999
  • PeeWee's Restaurant, 1997
  • RAIA (NT) Tracy Memorial Award, 1998
  • RAIA Award for Commercial Buildings, 1998
  • RAIA Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings, 1994
  • RAIA (NT) "People's Choice" Award, 1994
  • RAIA (NT) Tracy Memorial Award, 1994
  • Metal Building Award, 1994-5
    (National Award by BHP/ Metal Building Products Manuf. Assoc.)
  • RAIA Robin Boyd Award, 2002[3]
  • RAIA (Qld) Robin Dods Award, 2002
  • RAIA (Qld) Sustainable Architecture Award, 2002
  • Thiel House, Darwin, 1998
  • RAIA (NT) Tracy Memorial Award, 1999
  • RAIA (NT) Burnett Award, 1999
  • Commendation, RAIA Robin Boyd Award, 1999
  • Rozak House, Darwin, 2000–2001
  • RAIA Sustainable Architecture Award, 2002[4]
  • RAIA (NT) Sustainable Architecture Award, 2002
  • RAIA (NT) Burnett Award, 2002
  • Commendation, RAIA Robin Boyd Award, 2002
  • MBA National Environment and Energy Award, 2003
  • St Mary's Primary School, Darwin, 2010
    Hall, Library, Early Learning Centre & Courtyard,
  • AIA (NT) Colorbond Steel Award, 2011
  • AIA (NT) Tracy Award, 2011
  • AIA (NT) Urban Design Award, 2011


Troppo is nationally and internationally recognised, and is Australia's 3rd most awarded practice. A full list of the details of awards can be found on the practice's website.[5]

In addition to those mentioned above, they include:

Summary of AIA/RAIA awards
AIA/RAIA(NT) Architectural Innovation Award1992(twice)
Burnett Award1995, 1998, 1999, 2002, 2011
Colorbond Steel Award2011
Multiple Housing Award2009
People's Choice Award1994, 1995, 2009
President's Award for Recycled Buildings1992, 1994, 1999
Public Architecture Award2008
Sustainable Architecture Award2002
Tracy Memorial Award1992, 1993, 1994, 1998, 1999, 2011
Urban Design Award2008, 2011
AIA/RAIA (Nth Qld) NQ House of the Year2010
AIA/RAIA (Qld) Colorbond Award2001
AIA/RAIA (SA) Colorbond Steel Award2010
John Chappel Award2009
National AIA/RAIA Award for Commercial Buildings1998
Sir Zelman Cowen Award for Public Buildings1994
Special Jury Award1992
Sustainable Architecture Award2002
Summary of non-AIA/RAIA awards
  • Adelaide Affordable Ecohousing Competition, winner, 2004
  • Arafura Medium Density Residential Design Competition, winner, 2006
  • Global Sustainable Architecture Award, Paris, 2010
  • HIA (SA) Custom Built Homes Award, 2003
  • MBA Building Excellence Award, 2003
  • MBA National Environment and Energy Award, 2003
  • Metal Building Award, 1994-5 (National Award by BHP / Metal Building Products Manuf. Assoc. for Bowali Visitor Centre, Kakadu National Park)
  • Northern Rivers Urban Design Awards, Award for Excellence, 2008
  • Northern Rivers Urban Design Awards, Grand Winner, 2008
  • Tel Aviv University Visitor Centre & School of Environmental Studies, International competition winner, 2002
  • Thuringowa City Council's Climate Responsive Design Competition, winner, 2003
  • Timber Design Awards, SA, 2010
  • Tropical House Design Comp, Winner, Darwin, June 1990


  1. Penny McGuire: "Darwin's evolution - Troppo Architects' design of the Pee Wees at the Point restaurant in Darwin, Australia", in The Architectural Review, Feb 1999
  2. LOCUS foundation: The Global Award for Sustainable Architecture Archived 2013-05-09 at the Wayback Machine, 2010 winners Troppo Architects:
  3. AIA: "Lavarack Barracks", retrieved 23 March 2013
  4. AIA: "Rozak House", retrieved 23 March 2013
  5. Awards,


  • Goad, Philip (1999/2005) Troppo Architects, Pesaro Publishing. ISBN 0 9577560 1 1
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