Bryden House is located on a dramatic elevated site with spectacular mountain views. It is designed to provide both a hermetic retreat and to exploit its northern aspect and prospect in the northern part of Queensland’s Sunshine Coast Hinterland in Witta, Australia. The house is approached through a dense sub-tropical rainforest which opens to a small clearing where the house is located. The client, a single woman with a passion for books and a significant art collection requested something relatively modest in ambition and scale. Minimal means and a concern for low maintenance also influenced the concept for a lightweight metal clad pavilion, lightly positioned on the site and arranged in plan and section to focus specific views. Finishes and detailing are simple and economical, allowing a backdrop for art and a foreground for views. As a place for contemplation of nature, art and literature and occasional guest entertainment, this small house is intended to accommodate those varying demands in a comfortable and highly resonant relationship with this special site.
From the start of this project, upon visiting the site, first discussions with the client and including the reasons that the client purchased the site, sustainability in a holistic manner has been an inherent part of the house’s development. In recent years, the remnant part of the original sub-tropical rainforest has been further supplemented by new tree planting of indigenous species found in the area as part of the ambition to grow the rainforest further. This has included the planting of rare species, some endangered with the assistance of a local and knowledgeable arborist. Notwithstanding Council’s plant protection regulations for clearing of 50 metres within the vicinity of the house the house’s location has been situated to protect the maximum number of existing trees and incur the loss of a minimal number. Future planting will see the reinstatement of this planting nonetheless.
As part of the approach of minimising disturbance on the site and to maximise biodiversity, the house has been kept to a single level, generally a darker colour to minimise visual impact on the immediate and larger landscape and elevated at a minimum height above the natural ground levels with minor bulk excavation only to accommodate vehicular access and water storage below the garage.
The larger sustainable design approach for the project has been based on the accumulated effect of a large number of initiatives rather than focusing on so called major initiatives. Independent water supply by provision of 40,000 litres of storage under the garage floor from roof water harvesting, permeable driveway and pathways, Biolytix organic waste treatment system on site, photovoltaic panels for solar power generated back into the grid for an overall positive energy outcome, use of plantation timbers throughout for all structural framing to floors, walls and roof as well as all joinery and floors, good passive solar design for principle north and south orientations minimising exposure to east and west elevations, slow combustion stove with ducted heat transfer for heating in winter, low energy light fittings and appliances throughout, low water use hydraulic systems and taps throughout, low VOC paint finishes throughout, minimal external painting and use of pre-finished metal to the exterior minimising future maintenance requirements and use of solar glazing to minimise heat gain. The house is not air-conditioned and principally relies on high quality cross ventilation for cooling in the summer months.