The Victorian government has launched an online catalogue of house blueprints that promotes architects’ pro-bono efforts to bushfire victims.
Nineteen architect-designed models that comply with new bushfire building codes and embody sustainable principles have been selected for the free architectural service, which will help people rebuild the 2,000 homes lost in the February fires.
The new Bushfire Homes Service will allow displaced Victorianswho are interested in a design one free consultation with its architect who can advise on suitability and make any amendments.
Architects including Donovan Hill, Hayball, John Henry and John Wardle have donated their time and designs on a pro bono basis. View the 19 designs here.
CJ Foo, project manager at Melbourne-based practice Architects Eat, designed a home especially for the service along with the firm’s director, Albert Mo. Bushfire resistance and sustainability are the key criteria for the design, Foo told Architecture & Design.
“It is a simple home; it doesn’t really have a lot of niches and crevices where wind will get in and cause a lot of damage. It’s got minimum surface exposure and a lot of natural ventilation elements.
However, not every person who has lost a home in the bushfires will be able to afford an architecturally designed home, Foo said, even with the pro-bono efforts of firms. “They may prefer a cheaper option,” he said.
While it is impossible to design a completely fire-proof home, the Victorian government architect, Professor Geoffrey London, says certain key principles have been applied in the design phase to make these homes as resistant to the threat of fire as possible, such as the use of low- or non-combustible materials.
“The design results, such as the Birdhouse with a single steep-fall gutter that is easy to keep clear of debris or the Hinge House with its variable wing structure, show that a rich variety of design responses is possible within the revised standards for building in bushfire prone areas,” London said.
He added that the service’s homes have also been designed to meet growing community concerns for environmental sustainability.
The 19 home designs offer a variety of plan types of between two and four bedrooms, a variety of materials and construction types, and a variety of architectural design approaches, all of which can be adapted to suit a range of possible site conditions.
The service is joint initiative of the Australian Institute of Architects (Victoria) and the Office of the Victorian Government Architect.
The institute’s Victorian president, Karl Fender, says the service offers those who lost their homes access to architectural expertise that will add value and improve the quality and amenity of the homes being rebuilt.
“The service offers a selection of architect-designed plans to people intending to rebuild their homes, and a free consultation with the architect,” Fender said.