Bridge House / Max Pritchard Architect

Architects: Max Pritchard Architect
Location: Adelaide,
Consultant: Engineers Pocius & Associates
Constructed Area: 110 sqm
Project year: 2008
Photographs: Sam Noonan


The clients required a permanent home/office on their small property, located one hour’s drive from Adelaide. A bend in the winter creek that divides the property, creates a billabong (a deep waterhole) bounded by a high rocky bank. A house was required that would allow appreciation of the site without spoiling its beauty, but at a budget comparable with a “prefabricated” dwelling or an “off the plan” developers design (approximately (A$220,000).

The Design

A narrow house form, spans over the creek. Glazing each side opens the house to views in both directions, giving the feeling of living amongst the trees.

Structure and Materials

Two steel trusses forming the primary structure, were fabricated off site and erected by two men and a crane in two days. They were anchored by four small concrete piers, poured each side of the creek. Spanning between the trusses is a concrete floor slab on steel decking with a layer of rigid insulation. The “box” walling and roofing is plantation pine.

Sustainability and Environment

  • House Size – A floor area of 110 sqm has proved quite adequate for the couple‘s permanent home and office. An efficient plan is a simple and effective method of limiting the environmental “footprint” of the building.


  • Thermal Comfort – This house avoids any air conditioning by the following design techniques:
  1. Winter Heating The long sides of the house face north and south. The low winter sun from the north heats the black insulated concrete floor, storing heat for reradiating at night. Insulation to the underside of the slab, wall and roof combined with double glazed curtained windows aid the retention of heat. A small wood combustion heater provides additional heat when required, fuelled from timber grown sustainably on the site.
  2. Summer Cooling Pressed steel screens shade the north facing windows in summer. A combination of ceiling fans and openable windows allow for efficient and effective cooling from cross ventilation. By closing the house during hot summer days and opening it during the cool evenings, comfortable conditions can be maintained without air conditioning.
  • Materials Where possible Materials were selected that were:
    - produced locally in a sustainable manner
    - recyclable or reusable
    - easily installed with little machinery
    - created little waste
  • Steel and aluminum are used in recyclable sections, whilst satisfying the design requirements for bushfire prone areas. Secondary framing is plantation pine grown in the state. Roofing and wall cladding is recyclable sheet steel.

  • Services
  1. Water Roof water is collected for use within the house.
  2. Waste Water Is pumped 100 metres from the creek to avoid pollution and dispersed underground following treatment.
  3. Electricity Photovoltaic cells are located on the adjacent shed, to power the house, with excess power fed back into the grid.
  4. Hot Water Solar hot water panels on the house roof provide hot water at minimal cost.
  • Environmental Impact The design represents the classic “Touch the Earth Lightly” approach, both visually and environmentally
Cite: "Bridge House / Max Pritchard Architect" 03 Jul 2009. ArchDaily. Accessed 26 May 2015. <>
  • warren

    F****** brilliant!
    A place where I would definitely love to live

  • Jeison

    There´s harmony in everything. Fantastic.

  • Terry Glenn Phipps

    Craig Ellwood designed a very similar building for a site overlooking the Pacific ocean north of San Diego. The concept always struck me as particularly poetic and beautiful.

    This version is certainly interesting. However, I do find the materials a little unpleasant. The corrugated seems to take it out of engineering and to someplace self-consciously industrial (like what used to be called “High Tech” – see the book authored by Joan Kron and Suzanne Slesin). Some choices here, like the railing on the terrace, come off as particularly thin.

    Ultimately, to build a house spanning a ravine or canyon is an expensive proposition. In other expressions of this idea (built and conceptual) that I have seen the structure is self supporting obviating the necessity for the struts underneath. With all of the structural business going on down below this sort of gives the vibe of house trailer on a car-park elevator. For the same expenditure I bet something more gravity defying could have been achieved.

    Terry Glenn Phipps

  • malgorzata boguslaw

    Great idea, but not so brillant realisation. And what in the case of flood?

  • Lazar

    How can somebody speak here of sustainability. When you see the title of the house immediately you кnow, that this house is away from sustainability, and I hate all the pipes below the house, are they also sustainable ?:). And I’d like to see section.

  • C. D.

    An incredible place. A simple idea. Good resolution. Result: Good Architecture. Previously, Argentine architect Amancio Willams made his version of the House-Bridge (1943), in the Modern Movement.

  • os

    OLD IDEA… SEE “CASA DEL PUENTE” Amancio Williams, Argentina in 60′s

  • David Basulto [tricky]

    Amazing how it gently touches the soil. I bet that after a few years, vegetation will “eat” those legs and the volume will levitate over the natural landscape.

  • rek

    why not the use of wood, so no context textures, the only good thing about this house is the placement, wich i have seen in a few other houses before ( bridge style houses), apart from that, is just another boring cube

  • Champagne Caviar

    Luvly view…

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  • Lucas Gray

    Once again the luxury of designing in Australia’s moderate climate gives them such flexibility!

    But again this house looks like a Glenn Murcutt rip off. The material palette and the gentle footprint are the bread and butter for many of Murcutt’s houses. This is also not quite as elegant a form, especially the roof that doesn’t visualize the rain water collection at all.

    Murcutt’s buildings are fantastic and I would highly recommend everyone to look them up if you aren’t familiar with his work!

  • AMR

    Lazar, the pipes below the house are to remove waste to a waste water treatment system well away from the house, quite common here in Oz in places away from mains sewer. They are required if you wish to have a bathroom, kitchen and laundry in a house…..perhaps they should purge into the creek below instead…?

    I wouldn’t be too worried about floods, planning would have necessitated the house to be built above a one in a hundred year flood level.

    Terry, don’t know where you live but that build price is value for money here in South Oz. A more dramatic structure would mean a much much smaller footprint unfortunately. Max has given a good balance between client’s wants, client’s budget, a little architecture and structural expression. Corrugated iron is still a vernacular building material here so in my view a good choice of cladding given the budget.

    Has subtle hints of Peter McIntyre’s Kew house overlooking the Yarra River in Melbourne, built in 1955, even though that was a cantilever.

    I generally don’t like some aspects of Max’s work on each house he completes but this one is better than most in my humble view.

  • Mr. Andderson

    AMANCIO WILLIAMS !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


  • Nikola

    First: the concept is formalistic “Bridge house”
    Second: 110 m2 for a couple is not sustainable at all.
    Third: double ventilated roofs are sustainable and they prevent the house from heats and summer sun. Not this kind of ordinary horizontal roof.
    Fourth: How deep are those 4 founds? Sustainable is when you make small and shallow founds.

    This is just cheap formalism of some average Glenn Murcutt’s student.

  • Nikola

    The “Falling water house” from Frank L. Wright suppose to be the first and last house that rapes a river just to satisfy architect’s formalistic ego.

    Leave the nature, please!

    PS: what is next, house above trees? Sustainable I guess :-)

  • AMR


    Max is not a student of Glenn, he is nearly as old as Glenn…..Sustainable is relative……compared to the crap that gets built here this is gold….4 foundations, no matter how deep they have used less concrete and disturbed less soil than a traditional raft slab…re the roof….the hills where this house is are on average 10 degrees cooler than the plains here in South Oz, that flat roof is no problem in summer here. Lived there for 12 years in a box in full sun, no summer heat to deal with at all. The only problem in the hills is internal winter warmth.

    I am not a huge fan of his work but this is designed appropriately to the macro climate in which it resides, not all of Oz is the desolate outback desert heat sink.

    Cheap shots from an ill informed critic in my view

  • roofers in leeds

    wow, great design!.. would like to live there for sure

  • Nikola

    Dear AMR:
    “Sustainable is relative” that’s very strong argument. wow
    When you explain about climate you should have numbers as an argument (average temperatures, highest and lowest temp., how much electricity this house spend on air conditioning…).
    Visually maybe those 4 founds look elegant, but show me photos of the construction phase for this house. I want to see how much that small river was tortured from the mechanization for those 4 “small” and God knows how deep holes.
    And if you don’t have real engineering arguments pls don’t give me some “Interior Decorator” answers.

  • AMR


    Perhaps you should just try and read the body of the text, that seems to challenge your skill set on it’s own. Your responses show you haven’t.

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  • Nikola

    The body of the text is total lie. It’s not the first time to read fake explanations.
    If the house was really constructed by just 2 men (unless Supermen and Batmen helped), the architect would take photos and make drama of that. Like Jean Prouve’s houses, or Shigeru Ban’s paper buildings.

    Where are the photos as a proof?

  • I

    Terry Glenn Phipps=zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  • AMR

    Yeah, the bit bit about no air conditioning must be a total lie…….

    • Patrick Irwin

      I live in a house without air-conditioning.
      We do have very good ventilation (architect designed) and a small gas heater in the living room.
      Is that a total lie?
      Or are you ignorant, AMR?

      • AMR

        No Patrick, I was being sarcastic to Nikola, if you read all our posts it might make sense.
        Then again I could just be ignorant…..

  • loosman

    AMR – you’re embarressing all australians.

    Keep Murcutt out of this -he never designed a bridge house.

    Seidler and McIntyre did however, and more recently so did Godsell and Rosevear, but they learnt from Seidler……

    Everything that is beautiful about this house could have bene achieved by parking it alongside the top of the bank, and letting the occupants feel connected to the ground.
    The bridge is just a gimmick – who would want to live over a creek without a sense of connection to the earth?

    • AMR

      Please tell me how I am embarrassing all australians loosman? By responding to someone who did not even bother to read the accompanying text perhaps?
      I did not bring Glenn into the discussion loosman. Don’t bother replying if you don’t read the posts before.
      Perhaps the clients wanted a connection with their land on each side of the creek, we will never know as we were not party to the client/architect discussions.
      Gimmick in your eyes, solution in other eyes perhaps.
      I don’t have to agree with you or anyone else. I don’t like a lot of Glenn’s work, nor do I like a lot of Max’s work. Just my opinion.

      • loosman

        ok AMR – Loosman apologises for any offence. We are all entitled to our opinions as you say. I freely admit that I am enjoying the vigorous debate and discourse in architecture enabled by this site

  • tanya


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  • web design leeds

    excellent design, would love it