Resident architecture expert, David Hallett from Ask An Architect, gives us his opinion on The The Foxground Pavilion from Episode 4, Season 5 of Grand Designs Australia.
After carving out roads for a living, Joe’s now carving out a place to live. Not a house, mind you…a place to live.
There’s a difference.
A place to live is inspired by the people that live there – a family, their friends and relations. It’s a place that’s imbued with personality and filled with emotion. By contrast, a house is a collection of rooms separated by structure. It’ll keep the rain out, but it can be pretty soul-less until someone makes it a home.
You have to admire anyone who hand-makes their own home, so what can we learn from Joe and Maura’s?
A site with a south-facing view always presents a challenge, especially when it’s toward the rear.
Big views call for big windows but south-facing glazing contributes almost nothing to a building from a passive solar design perspective. Heat loss during winter can be mitigated through the use of double-glazed units, however they won’t ever admit sunshine to the interior (at least not south of the equator). North-facing glazing to a living area is always optimal, perhaps leavened with some east-facing windows for early morning sunshine. Properly protected, north-facing windows admit sunshine and warmth during the winter months to reduce heating requirements and feed the soul.
Perhaps a clerestory roof might have been worth considering to get some northern sunshine into the living areas?
Joe’s use of rammed earth construction continues a centuries old tradition of building using local materials. Just as we might find a log cabin in a forest, so we find this home rising from the local soil.
Brewed from a mixture of clay, sand, cement and gravel, the walls beautifully reflect the colour and texture of the environment in which the home stands. Such an approach dramatically reduces the embodied energy consumed in construction of the building shell, as does the use of re-purposed bridge timber. Rammed earth walls also provide an extremely high level of thermal mass which will keep the house cool in summer, although they’ll act as a heat-sink in winter. The thermal break between the walls and the slab floor is clever but the house will take some cooling down when warmer weather comes!
The planning of this home reflects the contemporary preference for separately zoned parents, kids and family areas. With majestic views toward the rear, the house appears to turn its back on the public realm – another current planning trend – but once inside, friends and family alike are treated to a warm welcome in a home that speaks volumes about the generosity of its owners.
A place to live is so much more than a floor plan.