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Grand Designs Australia

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King Island Whale Tail House, TAS

Series 4 · Episode 9

Anchored in the middle of Bass Strait and subject to the ferocious winds of the Roaring Forties, King Island is about as far from the tropics as you can get in Australia. Yet artists Di and Andrew Blake have decided to build a house there after almost twenty years of living in far East Arnhem Land….2 locations literally at either end of the country.

Drawn to the opportunity to live amongst the raw elements of nature, they’ve bought a spectacular parcel of land in the dunes of the wild west coast of the island. Their challenge is to produce a building that allows them to experience this environment in relative comfort.

Their design – a central wedge of living space flanked by two asymmetrical wings – is startlingly different for King Island. From the air, it will resemble a whale’s tail, or perhaps a tail plane from an aircraft. The clever angles of the north face will break up winds and provide shelter, but it will also put the local builder’s skill set to the test.

There are no sub contractors on the island so the builder and his team will need to handle everything - from slab pour and plastering to fitting the roof – and this is not your average construction….with few straight lines and full of tricky geometry.

Perhaps Di and Andrew’s biggest problem is stopping the sand from their dune blowing away. Their solution is creative and cheap, but will it be enough to tame the forces of nature?

The Blakes are operating without a formal budget or schedule. They like to keep things relaxed, but at the same time, they need to bring this house in for a moderate amount of money.   
Pretty soon, they have to travel to the Top End for work – leaving the builder to his own devices.

Di and Andrew must contend with dwindling resources and the sand, wind and rain if they want to achieve their dream….but King Island has never been a place for the feint hearted.

 
 

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1 comment
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Posted by Michael965 • 1y ago • Report
It wasn't mentioned on the program, but the Whale Tail House was designed by Michael Shrapnel and Agnes Nienhaus. www.beachousearchitecture.com.au