Described simultaneously as a 'bush house in the city' and 'open platform in the rainforest', the principle aims for this low budget home included simple, elegant and unpretentious form, easy access to cater for the owners' 'ageing in place', minimum impact on site, sustainability and low maintenance. It had to be a comfortable and convenient home with plenty of natural light and forest views.
Set on a secluded and private lot on the flanks of Mt Whitfield, the design strives for relaxed ambience, structural honesty, plentiful natural light and airflow, and generous references to the site and the forest.
The home is for a professional couple and regular guests who include extended family and friends. To satisfy the brief the home is a single level with vehicles parked at that level.
Retention of most of the existing forest, combined with subdued colours has resulted in a building which is virtually invisible from the city below. The layout was arranged to maintain significant large trees including a 40m Terminalia and even larger Quandong.
Views over the city are through 'windows' in the forest. Three pavilions separated by breezeways form the single level of the home suspended above the natural slope. The central living pavilion opens to the forest outlook through a full glass wall, and also connects seamlessly to the outdoor living breezeway. An outdoor dining overlooks the slightly lower lounge 'treehouse', which rests under a large canopy roof and is open on all sides. The main bedroom and ensuite pavilion is accessed across this breezeway and features framed views of the adjoining rock face which becomes a wet season cascade.
Guest bedrooms and shared ablution facilities comprise the west pavilion, which is separated from the living area by the entry breezeway and laundry/drying area.
The orientation of the house is north/south, thus allowing sun penetration into the building to be negligible. Cross breezes are channelled through any part of the home and controlled with extensive opening windows which include casements and louvres for added control.
Generous roof overhangs allow all windows to remain open in all but the most extreme weather conditions.
The building 'floats' on a galvanised steel support structure which carries through from the ground to the roof ensuring minimum site disturbance, low maintenance and structural integrity. Completion of the roof early in the construction process afforded weather protection for the following trades.
Other than the laminated timber beams in the main living space all structural spans are very short and hence structural sizes are small, ensuring that the delivery and assembly on a steep and difficult site was achievable and economical.
Easy care and low maintenance is achieved with a flat roof for easy access to the photovoltaic installation, solar hot water, membrane canopy and gutters. Also, Colorbond steel external cladding, aluminium windows and galvanised exposed structure all reduce maintenance demand.
Sustainability is enhanced with long-term low maintenance materials, low voc paints, sustainably harvested or plantation grown timber, locally sourced natural stone retaining walls and photovoltaic installation which provides most power requirements.
Extensive daylight enters the house through large areas of glass, and translucent roof materials over the entry, laundry and deck. Single room depth of the building helps to minimise the need for artificial light.
Suspended above the forest floor, living in this home is akin to life on a roofed platform within the rainforest canopy. A relaxed and easy ambience contributes to a harmonious relationship between the house and its occupants.
RAIA Far North Queensland Regional Awards Commendation 2012
RAIA Far North Queensland Regional Awards House of the Year 2012
STRAMIT BUILDING PRODUCTS, PREMIER 300 METALLIC
STRAMIT BUILDING PRODUCTS
FASCIAS & ROOF/WALL TRIMS
COLORBOND, STEEL CUSTOM DESIGNED
SOFFITS, PAINTED FEATURE WALLS
JAMES HARDIE WALL & FLOOR PRODUCTS, VERSILUX FC SHEETING
NORTHERN BLINDS, VANTAGE POWDER COAT ALUMINIUM
PREFABRICATED HOT DIP GALVANISED STEEL
LAMINATED TIMBER BEAMS
HYNE TIMBER, HYNEBEAM 17C
75MM ANTICON BLANKET
BORAL, 140X19 SPOTTED GUM
BORAL, 35X19 SELECT GRADE MESSMATE
INTERNAL WALLS & CEILINGS
CSR GYPROCK, 10MM PLASTERBOARD
ROCK SOLID CRAFTSMEN PTY LTD, RECONSTITUTED STONE TOPS
SAMIOS, ARMANTI CLOSE COUPLED
DECINA BATHROOMWARE, CARINA CLASSIC
RHEEM AUSTRALIA, HILINE SOLAR
STAINLESS STEEL CUSTOM DESIGNED BY ARCHITECT