The brief for this house was that the building form was to reflect that of a village – slightly disparate buildings grouped around a central square, each being of a different time but part of the whole.
Thus, one arrives by entering through a gateway opening in a barn- like building, influenced by images of bridge toll buildings and old slab buildings. To one side is the gate house, or in this case the artist’s Studio, with its solid earth finish providing strength against the more temporary feel of the timber barn (for the modern automotive horses). Then, the main residence with its two storey mass bends to enclose the courtyard. It is solid with punched openings to resist the cold south aspect. A tower forms a knuckle point where the house and a link element converge. The link is to a more contemporary timber slab hut that contains an indoor pool, children’s play wing and the home office.
Site elements such as the dam and the hill behind, along with view corridors to the east and north west to the Blue Mountains helped determine the design form. The placement of openings in the facade allows one to experience these vistas as one travels through the building.
The house was to provide the very latest in energy efficiency and as such there are several elements to the design that work to provide passive control of the climate of the house. These include: Atrium spaces located at node points in the house to act as chimneys for natural ventilation. A tower structure at the knuckle of the house is design top drive stack affect ventilation through the house.
All internal doors are provided with solid highlights that enable natural ventilation to occur while doors are closed. All main external openings have highlight windows (some strategically motorised) to ensure good cross ventilation. Timber frames and sashes used for all external openings for good thermal blocking re heat transfer. Heating is via in floor hydronic piping and wall radiators powered by 27 Solar panels concealed on the roof with natural gas augmentation when required. The success of the design in achieving good passive temperature comfort within the house can be gauged by the fact that the mechanical support system designed to augment the natural ventilation and heating system has never been required to be installed.
This house provides a relaxed country lifestyle while utilising a material palette that is quite earthy – rammed earth, corten steel, natural timber, field stone and strong painted render so that it sits quietly in its rural setting.