From the architect:

Located in the picturesque region of northeast Tasmania, Australia, Dales of Derby is a place to stay next to the river on the edge of town.

An introductory building to the small village of Derby, a gable roof suggests a link to the local mining, timber and farming history, calling to mind utilitarian tin miner accommodation, high country slab hut or tractor shed. Facilitating single groups of up to 24 people, the building presents a series of varied experiences, perhaps even evokes a certain memorable naivety of fun, friends, kids, and a splash of primary colour, a splash in the river, a fireplace, a social place, a place to remember.

 The built form is a singular functional object separated into pieces and strung out across the hill between road and river. Gaps become significant framing moments of eucalypt forest while night time gable lighting castes a permanent golden hue to greying timber walls; a memory of the raw timber cut, glowing on the outskirts of the township.

The clients are outdoor enthusiasts. Their professional background is in the design and installation of photovoltaic power generation and associated sustainable technologies. They also have strong ties to the area and wanted to create a place for people to enjoy as a large group.

The Dales of Derby was to be a base for adventure focused around the burgeoning town, where mountain biking is a key attraction. The building was to present an alternative for accommodation in Tasmania that allowed a large group of friends or family to gather and connect with each other and with the natural beauty and history of the area.

The building was be a well-conceived architectural response to maximising solar power generation in a discreet manner, and be sufficiently robust and low maintenance, particularly with interior finishes.

Budget parameters were to require careful consideration with priority given to use of readily available materials, buildability and standard construction methods.

Set within a rugged low maintenance framework, the architecture seeks to capture the spirit of a fun time away and of somewhere memorable, from the red vault, to blue from above, of yellow lights and warm timber interiors, and of being outside but protected from the rain and sun.

Given size of land available, the river below and the need to manage wastewater on site, the number of people accommodated was governed by the capacity of the system to meet environmental sensitivity and setback requirements.

The aerated treatment system utilises a subsurface irrigation area. Intermittent use of the building required consideration of how best incorporate sustainable technologies and passive design principles.

Consideration is given to the built design response in the context of authority planning overlays, village character and historic fabric. Identifiable as contemporary work, the material, character, scale, siting and form seeks to not obscure or distort the heritage significance of the area.

Timber frame construction, visible external timber and metal sheet reflect the making method of the village’s older buildings and the regions logging heritage. It is the very first building visible on approach to Derby from the west and so presents a narrow gable profile.

Primary structure of plantation timber elements. External cladding Tasmanian Oak rough sawn natural weathering timber sourced locally. Interior flooring Tasmanian Oak from local supplier of upcycled and reclaimed character timber (finished with Livos Natural Oil Sealer). Tasmanian Oak interior trim and fitout. FSC Plywood linings. Decking Spotted Gum. 11 kilowatts photovoltaic power array.

Building is shaped to seamlessly integrate an expansive photovoltaic power generation array, so rendering the panels essentially invisible from all viewpoints. The 11 kilowatts generated contributes to heating hot water via efficient compressor technology programmed for daylight hours. The system is designed to suit the usage with managed export to the power grid.

Thermally controlled areas (sleeping, lounge / dining / kitchen) are scaled to function appropriately and comfortably while not being oversized. Low energy LED lighting is utilised throughout.

A high level of thermal control of the built envelope, good solar orientation, minimal southern openings, precisely managed solar control with shade devices and utilisation of energy efficient technologies limit current and future running costs.

The buildings primary structure is plantation timber frame and has limited steel elements. Timber cladding is locally sourced together with the highly feature-graded interior flooring, ensuring natural variations are celebrated.

A ventilated external skin, coupled with high performance building membranes manage condensation and heat shedding.

Hot water is the most significant contributor to energy usage. It is supplied via Sanden compressor unit technology with 4 x 315 litre tanks, operable to minus 10 degrees Celsius, Coefficient of Performance of 5.0, no electrical heating element, timed to operate during daylight hours utilising solar generation. There is allowance for future expansion.