The clients were two retired scientists looking for a low cost running, low maintenance, energy efficient house that would be their long-term place of residence. The home had to age in place, while offering all the amenities needed for its occupants to do the same.

The final design allows the clients to settle into a lifestyle that enjoys the surrounding bush environment, as well as encourages them to engage in the community of the Huon Valley in Tasmania.

Dealing with the cold climate and southern winds was an important factor for the architects, who have wrapped six tall, curved Corten blades sinuously along the length of the house. Offering multiple purposes and framing views out to the north and northeast, these blades shield windows from the frosty air.

The building is also oriented to gather as much northern and eastern sun as possible. For instance, on a winter’s day, the window seat on the southern side can be warmed by the sun. The Huon Valley wind also blasts the southern face, but this side offers the best views.

Key initiatives:

  • Passive solar and cross ventilation
  • Hydronic underfloor heating in hallway and main living areas, but not in less-used areas such as the larder and laundry. The hot water is provided by solar tubes
  • 200mm thick polystyrene under the concrete slab as a thermal barrier to the ground
  • Timber infill separation of the thermally broken, double glazed aluminium windows from the concrete, a secondary thermal barrier
  • Greenland Evacuated Solar Tube hot water
  • Solar energy, both passive and photovoltaic. The latter is in the form of a 5.0 kW grid connection, and will be upgraded to 7.0 kW
  • Three 10,000 litre tanks – all water is taken of the adjoining shed roof. An Envirocycle system treats grey and black water for watering an area of newly planted endemic plant species
  • No plasterboard is used; recyclable structural steel frame with corrugated galvanised iron roofing and corrugated mini orb internal ceilings
  • Fibre glass insulation, approximately R7.5 to R8. A 20mm foil board to external flat walls over plywood, and a cavity of fibreglass insulation and internal linings

Photography by Peter Whyte