The prize winners of the re-Growth House competition were recently announced. The competition, organised on behalf of the people of Victoria that lost their homes in the Black Saturday bushfires, sought inspirational design ideas that can offer a way, for residents who have lost their homes to the bushfires, to re-build.
The first stage of the competition attracted 36 entries that were assessed anonymously, with seven shortlisted. The panel included Adam Kalkin, Marcus Trimble, Dan Honey, Peter Johns and Stoney and Jacqueline Black a family that lost their home in the fires and are now living in the re-Growth Pod.
Images and architect’s description of the four winning proposals, after the break.
First Place – Tanked – Tom Morgan, Sharkmouse
“In the wake of the devastating fires that ripped through the communities of Kinglake and Marysville the issue of survivability came to the fore. Much of the dialogue centred on the nature of the building fabric – on material properties. Inevitably, the planning guidelines seized upon intuitive understandings – that timber, as a flammable material, was to be abhorred, and masonry and concrete construction to be lauded. Yet reality is often counter-intuitive – some of the buildings that survived were timber, and many that were destroyed were of masonry construction. The deciding factor in the persistence of some structures seems to have been the presence of an aware, prepared resident with sufficient water-pressure to fight back spot fires after the main fire-front had passed by.
The solution, rather, is to focus on simple systems – to accept the dangers of the locale, but to remember that people did survive; primarily those with fire plans, and fire-fighting systems to match the plans.
Tanked is a rapidly deployable adjunct to the re-Growth Pod. It is ready for immediate inhabitation but is intended to be augmented with more permanent structures. The fire-suppression system is gravity fed, reducing reliance on fickle two-stroke fire-pumps at the crucial juncture. Eaves and under-crofts are banished; reducing the chance of stray ember spot-fires. Tanked addresses such needs with a system that presents the best defense against future fires, while acknowledging the inherent dangers and responsibilities of the locale.”
Second Place – Re Growth House – Umberto Emoli, Emoli Petroschka Architects
“The proposal is for a two-storey family house including two bedrooms, one bathroom, a large double height living area and a mezzanine study/bedroom, linked to the Pod but articulated to allow the family to inhabit the site while the building works progress. Following completion, the Pod internal layout is to be converted into a guest room with en-suite bathroom. All envelope materials, components and assemblies of the house, try to respond to the environment and to minimise the threat of possible bushfire damage.
The proposal is for a compact and simple rectangular volume with a pitch roof to minimize the risks of the bushfire hazards and costs, while achieving a rational and flexible use of space, protected by a sound and solid fire resistant shell. The bedrooms, to include the mezzanine study, are south facing and the double height living space and open plan kitchen are north facing. ”
Second Place – Untitiled – Shane Plazibat, plazibat + jemmott architects
DESIGN • After the fire, Re-generation . . . beginning with the growth of the first green `buds’ from charred vegetation. • Re-habitation . . . of the township and community, and individual resident’s re-habitation of individual lots through arrival of `pod’ • Re-building . . . through additive expansion to ‘pod’ with modular living and sleeping `buds’. • Circulation and service areas link living and sleeping `buds’ with low-level roof which extends out to identify entrance and form verandah element. • Living and sleeping `buds’ are constructed from standardised precast concrete panels. Roof panels are clad with pre-finished metal sheeting for rainwater harvesting, while walls can be clad or remain as face-concrete. • Living and sleeping `buds’ allow house to grow and can provide additional living, sleeping or combined accommodation as required by individual needs. • Personalisation of house through selection of cladding material and possible integration of remnant materials and building elements from existing residences will reinforce a sense of place and continuity of memory for residents and wider community.
STAGING • Modular ‘buds’ allow additive expansion to ‘pod’ to provide living and sleeping `buds’ (with entry, circulation and service areas (kitchen / bathroom) between). • Adaptability to site with location and orientation of `buds’ in relation to `pod’ is flexible and adaptable to various site configurations. • Future expansion with addition of living, sleeping or combined living / sleeping `buds’.
Third Place – Outpost 2.0 – Traian Cimpeanu
“Structural solution: pre-oxidised 160 x160 mm steel profiles are welded into a robust, non-flammable structure, placed on the exterior of the house. The high resistance material ensures structural integrity during prolonged fires.
Façade solution: high resistance prefab elements covered with 6mm steel plates. Glazing: aluminium-framed windows, 6mm toughened glass. The mobile parts are protected by a fixed steel mesh shutter.
Floor solution: 220 mm reinforced concrete, bottom protected by 6mm thick steel plate. Roof: 6mm weathering steel. The debris accumulation points are reduced to a minimum. Outdoor spaces: the deck at the entrance is a prefab concrete element, 220 mm thick.
Evacuation stairs/ramps: wheel chair-accessible, non-flammable steel ramp”
“Dense screen planting: rows of untrimmed, closely-grouped planting are to be used as barriers against the wind born embers and debris. Low-flammability species are to be used; regular maintenance of these screens is required (especially in the bushfire season). Complete enclosure with these screens is to be avoided (the dominant wind direction has to be determined and the planting done accordingly). Fuel-reduced areas: a gravel-covered parking area that can accommodate up to three vehicles is provided on the site.
The choice of materials was mainly influenced by their respective fire-resistance properties, but structural robustness and low-maintenance requirements were also essential criteria. The result is a strong, dependant and stable structure, but at the same times a liveable, comfortable shelter – a true outpost in the middle of a harsh environment.”