Modest Block Creates Maximum Light, Flexibility & Spacious
“The client’s brief was to introduce as much light as possible into all spaces as well as minimizing usage of heating/cooling throughout. This has been achieved by the combination of thermal mass internally and insulation placed externally. The design of spaces and location of windows promote cross-ventilation which is assisted by ceiling fans. Skylights and Floor lights are introduced to create a combination of striking lighting effects to the ground floor and soft lighting effects into the basement. Borrowed light streams into the basement through the glazing along the stairwell, transforming the space into a flexible multi-use living area”.
Formulating this design was based on incorporating these four concepts; materials, volume, light and flexibility. In addition to the small site the challenge was in creating space, warmth and multifunction.
Warmth was created by featuring a limited palette of rich materials and crisp detailing enhances the feel and look. Materials include – concrete, hoop-pine and Tallowwood, timber screens Volume – by stretching the building horizontally and vertically with raked walls and ceilings volumetric spatial connection is created on all levels. Light – strategic light wells penetrate generous flows of light throughout the building and every room. The luminous stair-well assists with light right down to the basement.
Flexibility – is achieved by establishing another sleeping quarter for guests or teenager in the basement.
The internal courtyards, timber screens and soft landscaping gives the client a close connection to light, open space that’s private. The three levels are connected via light wells and garden aspects, allowing the outside in and light manages to fill all spaces creating a calm, serene atmosphere perfect for withdrawing or work.
Integration of allied disciplines – The builder’s commitment to excellence is evident throughout with a high level of workmanship in crafting the concrete and timber stairwell, meticulously mitring junctions in the hoop pine lining to the walls/ceilings, expressing the entire house as a single joinery item.
The Engineering brief called for a simple concrete structure without steel & edge beams. The engineer was able to design a concrete structure with the aesthetic intent to express the soffit of the concrete floor slabs. The Landscape Architect designed gardens to introduce an external softness at each level, drawing your attention outwards and up to the sky.
Environmental sustainability – Timber materials used throughout have been sourced from sustainable plantations or recycled. Formerly a bridge in Northern NSW; long lengths of Tallowwood were selected to construct the stair-well, external cladding, interior lining boards and window frames. Off-form concrete walls and floor are both finish and structure, providing an aesthetic as well as a passive strategy for heating and cooling.
The thermal mass of the concrete walls and floors ‘release’ stored heat to the bedrooms above during the night, assisting to average the diurnal temperature changes in the cooler months. Perforated timber panels to windows on the upper floor respect the privacy and amenity of the adjoining properties whilst doubling as shading devices to the bedrooms.
Powered Air-Conditioning has only been implemented within the bedrooms. Comfort is achieved throughout the house by ample cross ventilation and ceiling fans. All external walls are lightweight and insulated against heat transference in summer. These passive strategies provide for healthy living which in turn passes on savings to the occupant in heating/cooling running costs. The water tank located under the driveway have been specified for a larger capacity in order to reduce the burden on the dilapidated storm water infrastructure, providing a contribution to the local community.