February 21st, 2015
This Hinterland Home design has been included in the Courier Mail weekend ‘Home’ magazine.
(photos: courtesy fotomedia)
We designed this home for friends who, in past lives, had been neighbours in Brisbane. Our family was moving south toward the beaches for some Gold Coast Life and Architecture. They were heading to the hills behind Brisbane for some Hinterland serenity.
The clients had a strong sense of the simple home design they wanted, and the lifestyle it would help them to enjoy. The home is comfortable, and incorporates a simple palette of beautiful raw materials.
The house design looked at a number of different criteria, including:
The home is designed so that all key aspects of life in the home are on the one level, with no steps. This allows the clients to age gracefully with the home, or weather (an hopefully unlikely!) injury. It delays the day approaching all of us, when we are forced from our homes because of age, or steps.
The lower level incorporates an artist studio, music room and accommodates friends and family as guests. However in the (hopefully unlikely) event that they were to suffer an injury, they could: arrive home, live, sleep, eat and bathe on the one level.
The home is designed to be comfortable. It has all the areas the clients wanted and needed in the home. But without the anonymous spaces which often fill homes which don’t need them. Instead there are flexible spaces for guests, and plenty of storage space. Rather than the client needing to spend time cleaning empty bedrooms and bathrooms which were never needed, there are instead a series of decks to enjoy the views, gardens, and on which to experience the seasons as they roll over the hills.
By being efficient in size, waste was reduced in construction then, and in maintenance now. Money spent is reduced (saves the client’s time spent working to pay interest on a mortgage.) It also reduces the energy needed to heat the home, and cool it.
Sustainability in Materials:
The house is on a very steep site. It starts on the ground with no steps at the entry, and then sails above as the ground drops into the view. Painting the home, should it be required, would be a difficult and expensive task.
The entire outside of the home is clad in pre-finished steel cladding, aiming to minimize the need for painting over the life of the home. The feature Australian hardwoods used externally on the home might be maintained from the decks when required, or left to age if the clients prefer.
Other areas of the home incorporate recycled materials. This given them a life instead of landfill (and saves new materials needing to be ‘created’). These elements also add to the character of the home, giving it a head-start on history, by incorporating someone else’s.
The client continued this theme beautifully through the site, with no edge between the remnant rainforest and the ‘gardens’. The house now sits in its own evolving forest with walking paths winding through to enjoy the site: rather than their spending weekends mowing turf.
Engagement with the site, allow the house to evolve with the client’s lives:
Are we less tolerant of weather as we grow isolated from experiencing it? Are we less understanding of our place in the world and the weather which surrounds us? (Said with some irony as we sit miserable in the wet trail of topical Cyclone Marcia.)
The house design helps the owners to engage with their surroundings. It encourages them to experience the heat, cold, wind and rain: at the open bridge between car and house, and in the procession through the small entry for boots and rain jackets and umbrellas, into the home. The compact house encourages them to open the doors to enjoy the decks which surround the house, and the paths through their site. The passive solar design aims to keep the house as comfortable as practical on most days, without need for air conditioning. However they also have the option on particularly cold days to close the house up, and enjoy a glass of wine in front of the fireplace.
It works to avoid the owners from becoming cocooned in the home-car-work-and-back, air conditioned bubble which isolates our inner city lives.
This Hinterland Home design allows flexibility over time: through the addition of grab rails, enclosing shutters, pergolas and other improvements. We all have a different degree to which we will want this sort of engagement, and we need to come to understand our limitations. The house allows the client to explore their changing understanding of their own needs, and evolve their home to suit.