The Big Picture – Eva-Marie Prineas of Studio Prineas

Words by Camille Khouri
Photography by Ben Hosking & Chris Warnes

Architect Eva-Marie Prineas created Sydney-based Studio Prineas in 2004 and has never looked back. The work that flows from the award-winning architecture studio is intuitive and balanced, underpinned by a belief in the importance of home and a clear vision for living.

Eva-Marie clearly remembers the lightbulb moment when she understood the role and value of architecture. When she was in her early teens, her parents engaged an architect to complete a renovation of their family home in the suburbs of Sydney. “Sitting in our living room, I watched the architect take out a pen and paper and sketch his thoughts right there in front of us,” she says. “His immediate response to the space was transformative, and it was truly a revelation for me to see what could be achieved through problem solving.”

Architect Eva-Marie Prineas created Sydney-based Studio Prineas in 2004 and has never looked back.

Eva-Marie went on to study architecture at The University of Sydney and began her career working for a leading heritage practice before starting Studio Prineas in 2004. The practice has grown steadily, and the lessons and values learned from her formative years continue to underpin the Studio Prineas philosophy of understanding and adapting places that deserve to be celebrated. With an approach to new briefs that is balanced and contextual and an eye to how a site sits within the greater landscape, this broad perspective, which encompasses respect for history and culture, is a key focus for the studio for the coming year, explains Eva-Marie.

“Our approach has always been to address functional and emotional needs in equal measure, intuitively responding to the distinct lifestyle of each client with a vision for living. With that in mind, the way in which we approach our client briefs is very much aligned to our broader business values,” she reflects. “As a practice, we always strive to be respectful and compassionate to others and absolutely authentic in all that we do. These values extend to the land and the Traditional Owners of the land on which we work.”

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Studio Prineas gravitates towards honest, natural materials, specifically referencing each site condition and context. And when approaching alterations and addition, the studio favours a clear distinction between old and new, while colour is approached through drawing from the past and existing context – both built and natural. But beyond these consistent threads, “we draw on our creativity to inspire new ways of thinking, but remain grounded in functionality, liveability and longevity. Sustainability is central to this, and whenever possible we choose locally made materials and furnishing and often experiment to achieve the desired outcome,” Eva-Marie says.

“Acting with generosity and kindness underpins our relationships with clients, collaborators and each other,” she explains. “We have a genuine respect for those we work with, and as an established practice it’s these longstanding relationships that allow us to deliver for our clients. Similarly, nurturing my incredible team has been personally fulfilling.”

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Eva-Marie and her husband, who is also an architect, live in an 1890s Victorian Italianate house located in Sydney’s inner west, which they have renovated in stages. “It has wonderfully high ceilings and ornate original details,” says Eva-Marie. “It has been a labour of love over the past nine years. We have enjoyed the experimentation as we think about life and how we live as our little family grows.”

“We are currently preparing the home for sale and have mixed emotions about leaving not just the physical space but the emotional connections and memories we’ve made,” she reflects. “However, we’re also excited by the opportunity to design our next home and continue our creative and experimental collaboration.”

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Reflecting on the studio’s body of work, Eva-Marie is especially proud of the recent CNR Virginia project in Sydney. Marrying the restoration of an original heritage home with an expansive rear addition for contemporary living, this project has a strong focus on sustainability. “I think all architects would agree that our work needs to become more sustainable. It’s a work in progress, and we are educating ourselves in this area, however, we also strongly believe responding to site and repurposing existing materials is key to sustainability.”

Looking to the future, Studio Prineas has many exciting projects on the books for 2021. “We always enjoy the challenge of working within heritage conservation areas. As architects, I believe it is our responsibility to investigate each site and understand and celebrate its existing qualities before adding a further layer. This makes each project entirely unique and a welcome challenge,” says Eva-Marie. “More broadly speaking, we’re incredibly enthusiastic about the year ahead and dedicating ourselves to delivering truly personalised spaces that our clients love to live in.”