Design insights from a North Shore Architect


When Playoust Churcher Senior Design Architect Marielise van der Merwe looks out of our office window to the tree-lined streets of Killara, she can’t help but be inspired. Here she is on Sydney’s North Shore, designing homes that enhance the best of what Mother Nature has to offer.

As one of the newest members of the Playoust Churcher team, Marielise shares her design insights developed over a career that spans two decades and two continents.

Cape Town South Africa

Calling on her South African roots


“I was born and raised in South Africa, where we enjoy quite an outdoors lifestyle. We have large blocks of land and our homes are designed around family life. And that is how it is here on the North Shore.

I have been very fortunate to enjoy a career as a registered architect across both South Africa and Australia.

My experience spans more than two decades, as I have travelled back and forth between the two countries.

Often people are surprised at the similarities between Australian and South African architecture. When you consider how similar the people and climate are, it’s no wonder our houses have a similar feel. Glen Murcutt is an iconic Australian architect… and you see so many designs that honour his style in South Africa.”

The North Shore Lifestyle

The North Shore Lifestyle


“I live and work on the North Shore, so I understand our clients’ lifestyles. We are fortunate to have such good schools and tight-knit communities in the area.

Everyone is so busy with work and getting the kids off to school that they want to spend their evenings and weekends in a comfortable space where their family can gather.

I understand that lifestyle and the needs of families, so I can optimise my designs for family life with entertainment areas or cabanas and other features. It’s about a house adding to the flow of family life, rather than being a hindrance.

Many of our clients have a home on the North Shore and come to us to design a holiday house on the beaches, such as at Palm Beach. Whether I am designing a family home or a holiday house, I follow the same principles of good design to deliver a built product that surpasses all expectations.”

Thinking outside the box

Thinking outside the box


“In terms of design, I believe that simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.

My design style is bold, yet simple. Cutting edge, yet practical. Ultimately, I like to think outside of the box.

I am quite inspired by a female architect called Zaha Hadid. She has always been an icon for me because of her groundbreaking design.

If you saw her work you might wonder how it has any relation to the work I do here at Playoust Churcher… but she was never scared to think outside the box and question convention.

Whether you are designing monuments of architecture like Zaha, or working as a North Shore Architect, it all comes back to good design. And when we think outside the box, we can find solutions that will really make a difference for our clients to help them realise their dream home. Not being scared to think differently has had a huge influence on my designs.”

Step into your dream home


Marielise and the rest of the team at Playoust Churcher have decades of experience designing dream homes. We are experienced North Shore Architects who believe good design is the essential ingredient in everything we do.

Contact us to discuss how we can help you bring your dream home vision to life.

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