Architects: Wolveridge Architects
Location: Victoria, Australia
Project Year: 2010
Photographs: Courtesy of Wolveridge Architects
The rectilinear planform of the building is based on agricultural construction and considers the integration of object and landscape. This idea is drawn initially from Victorian-era farm structures of the region where buildings were developed largely on pragmatic terms. The land form undulates at 700m AHD. A ridge line traverses the building site almost diagonally, creating an elevated natural amphitheatre to its north. The requirement to orientate the dwelling north for solar purposes and south for the views also precipitates this idea of the object. The building was located just below the hilltop in a reconfigured contour which provided a nestled siting in an otherwise exposed environment.
The building structure is typical of portal frame construction, incorporating 5no. 4m modules. The rectilinear plan at the main level is punctured by a service core, forming an axial nature within the plan. This core incorporates a wet entry at the south side. Inside, it contains building services including: bathroom, kitchen, wc, laundry, hws, and wood-fired boiler. The main living room, centrally located on the plan incorporates large sliders to the north and south, providing a protected outdoor alternative in most wind conditions. Large oversized blackbutt cladding of the building’s gable ends incorporate framed views of the exterior and organizes the building program with central living/services core and sleeping zones cradled in timber at each end.
An attempt to create an ‘australianess’ with a rugged exterior, characterized by a palette of natural materials, a sense of craftsmanship and childhood reminder of growing up in the 70’s. The building’s exterior incorporates full height panels of windows with black painted compressed sheet over. The ends of the building, custom blackbutt cladding incorporate smaller windows which frame the views. These openings are somewhat haphazard and attempt to forge a connection with local agricultural structures which locate openings on the basis of pragmatic requirements often revealing an almost random appearance. Large sliding screens shield the dwelling from the summer’s intense sun and create a filtered internal light.
Consciously, the house employs non-domestic materials like steel, concrete, recycled timber, and concrete masonry. Plaster is seldom visible and painted black. A reference to the monochromatic palette, the shower floor is yellow rubber, with terrific grip and underfoot comfort. Shower walls are lined using full height sheets of mild steel. A dark interior draws the eye to the external vista reinforcing the connection with site. The construction was carried out as an owner builder employing mainly local trades ensuring the time required to achieve a level of detail, control the building costs and enable value decisions during the works.
The offgrid dwelling is powered by a 2kw solar/battery system with remotely located subground backup generator. Heating is by way of woodfired hydronic heating with solar boost sharing with domestic hot water. The building is highly insulated and all rooms cross ventilate naturally. What was conceived as a bachelor pad is now a family home, a few changes on the way.