Hover House by Bower Architecture sits on a modest Victorian Mornington Peninsula site with ideal sunlight orientation. It comprises a mixture of lightweight cladding and internal thermal mass and combines these with text book passive solar design.

The home’s external walls of shiplapped Blackbutt run close to the neighbouring properties and abut the site’s perimeter on three of its four sides. Bower Architecture unconventionally looked inwardly from the home’s edges to incorporate outdoor living space for the client and in doing so imagined a private Zen-like courtyard garden which is a striking feature of the build.

The courtyard consists of a gentle sloping lawn, one granite bolder and a small maple tree, but it also serves as the point for the three wings of the house to articulate from.

The house is divided into three wings that are approached anti-clockwise from the entry and visitors wing into the kitchen and living wing followed by the main suite and study. Click on floor plan to enlarge.

Facing north and capturing all of the Peninsula’s winter sun is Hover House’s shared room which is an exemplar of a ‘mass and glass’ design concept. The ridgeline of the roof to the north shades the room’s polished concrete floors and reverse block veneer walls from the summer sun, all the while encouraging their warming in winter.  

Complete cross ventilation has also been considered by Bower and is possible by sliding open the massive Darley Aluminium Patio doors that affront both the courtyard and the external sides of the eastern and western wings. 

The sleeping rooms follow a more ‘light and tight’ philosophy and the materials in these spaces are drastically softer with plush carpets, plasterboard and Finewood Ventech Australia Blackbutt veneer dominating.

In these spaces, where mass is less, thermal comfort is controlled by a combination of ventilation and external shading, a tightly sealed envelope and a Fujitsu split system air conditioner.

Large timber batten screens that can be opened from Woodform Architectural sit externally to the courtyard-facing glazing on the eastern and western wings.  They slide open to allow sunlight to penetrate the master bedroom and entry hallway, or are closed for privacy and shade.

The master ensuite bathroom has no windows but gets solar access from a roof skylight.. Bathroom tiles are from Classic Ceramics ‘Vogue’ range .  

While Hover House does incorporate a hydronic in-floor heating system as well as an air-conditioning system, it seems Bower Architecture endeavoured to create a comfortable internal environment with minimal mechanical aid. This was proposed through a symbiosis of text book passive solar design and a careful selection of materials based on thermal mass performance.

Scyon Axon cladding from James Hardie is used on the external walls and coated in ‘Black’ Wattyl Solaguard.


Images: Shannon McGrath.