- Design Team: Mark Spence, Dana Hutchinson
- Builders: F&D DeVitis, Steve and Phil DeVitis
- City: Newcastle
- Country: Australia
Text description provided by the architects. An exercise in affordable housing, Waratah Secondary house is shaped by simple underlying principles; minimise costs through maximum efficiency. The use of high performance, prefabricated materials create the simple, box form expediting construction times and keeping costs low.
Due to flood mitigation controls, the primary living level is elevated 1.2m above natural ground. Hard and soft landscaping including stairs, decks and earth mounding are introduced. These outdoor connections provide inhabitants with distinct zones that are simultaneously open and separate.
Our client championed flexibility at every available opportunity. As built, Secondary house is a one bed studio dwelling, work from home or commercial studio space. Splitting the open studio into two equal (bed) rooms provides additional rental options.
A simple, low maintenance building form was selected for efficiency with on-site finishing kept to a minimum. Construction consisted of a masonry base (flood resisting), with prefabricated, modular components, including: Structurally insulated wall and roof panels, pre-finished fibre cement sheet panels, metal mesh fencing panels and modular joinery all specified as a means of minimising on-site waste through off site prefabrication.
With budget limitations, we prioritised the physical experience over technology. Our priority was not on energy saving by means of integrated building systems; we invested in the structural building envelope. Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs) were selected as the primary material due to their environmental benefits, superior insulation and speed of installation. Big openings provide the ability to alternately capture and purge heat as required through double glazed, timber operable doors and windows, promoting cross ventilation and providing thermal comfort to the inhabitants to reduce heating and cooling costs.
More than a granny flat, Secondary house increases suburban density through spatially efficient planning reducing the building footprint to maximise the available outdoor space.