Grand Designs Australia

Building your next home within nature!

Working with the natural geography of a site is all about honoring nature and letting the land drive the decisions. Is this possible? 

Draftsman Nigel Eberhardt and partner Nina, a school teacher ventured into exactly that! They have secured one of the last remaining native bush blocks in Turners Beach in Tasmania’s North Coast, a beachside suburb filled with new modern homes and manicured gardens. 

Nigel and Nina have a passion for the environment and aim to keep the property in its natural state. They plan to keep all existing trees and minimise the disturbance to the natural growth on the block, this includes the towering 30 metre eucalyptus tree that sits proudly on the property. 

The house design is made up of two separate pods – one for living and the other for sleeping joined by an entry link straddling the gum tree.  The overall position of the house is in close proximity to the front of the property, the outcome is an amazing sanctuary at the back where the focus of the house lies.

The challenges faced by Nigel and Nina are not only driven by the desire to keep the natural bush block but also to achieve it all within their set budget. Is this possible?

Australia has great Architectural examples of homes that have been design / built around particular existing geographical conditions by architects and clients because of their connection with nature and sense of place. Nigel and Nina are among many that choose to tackle these projects.  Here are some examples:

Hopetoun Avenue Residence by B.E Architecture

Hopetoun Avenue Residence by B.E Architecture seamlessly conserves a beautiful, existing mature lemon-scented gum tree. The period home went through extensive renovation and expansion.  The outcome being a highly modern extension to the property that allows the tree to be the dominant feature on site.

Photos from B.E Architecture

Photos from B.E Architecture

Tree House by Architecture Saville Isaacs

The pair of semi’s dramatically suspend among the trees in this leafy Sydney suburb on the edges of the Lane Cove river. The site provides numerous challenges from access, bush fire risk and well developed bushland. One of the client’s requirements was that there would be no excavation and nature would not be disturbed. Hence the properties are built on steel piers to minimise the interface with the earth.   The retention and integration of a 30 metre high eucalyptus tree rises through the middle of the cantilevered deck.

Photos from Architecture Saville Isaacs

Photos from Architecture Saville Isaacs

Carport Three House by ABA-Architects

One of the driving forces for this project was to protect its greatest asset, a beautiful established garden. The project brief included the provision of a pool and onsite parking in what is a large sloping site in Sydney northern suburb of Northbridge. The tree like structure designed acted as a bridge between the street and the garden below.  The aim of this structure was to minimise contact between the structure and the natural landscape.

Photos from ABA-Architects

So, if you are considering embarking on a project that will be designed and built around particular existing geographical conditions it is worth engaging expert advice.  This will save you time, money and overall sanity. The following is a list of experts that can guide and advice.  The list is not extensive and highlights those consultants that typically may not form part of the project team:

  • Structural Engineer - Ensure buildings are strong enough to withstand natural forces and loads imposed. They work closely with the project team to develop the best solutions for the project.
  • Bush Fire Planning and Design Consultant – Guide you through the regulations and code compliance of building in bush fire prone areas and can assist with the requirements set by local councils when submitting applications. Building in a bushfire prone area introduces a number of additional design, specification and construction parameters that need to be met. These additional requirements can add extra costs to a new home, so it is important to note that there is usually more than one option available that meet the requirements of the building regulations and standards.
  • Arborist - Generally focus on the health and safety of individual plants and trees.  The arborists will work with the client to determine what type of tree work is necessary to maintain or improve the health, appearance and safety of your trees.
  • Geotechnical Engineer – A Geotechnical engineering concentrates on the infrastructure interacts with the ground.  The ground nearly always has a complicated behavior, whatever the type of soil or rock it is made of.

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