A little gem in Australia

Tuesday 27 Sep 2011

Eco-residence in picturesque Queensland landscape 'pride and joy' of retired couple

Though coming in at only 144 sq m in floor area, this little gem packs a punch when it comes to considered eco design. The two bedroom, two bathroom, home office, cosy abode is the pride and ongoing joy of a retired couple dedicated to living sustainably. They carefully chose this almost perfect site; a north facing 1 in 7 sloped property on Mango Lane, located in the Terraces Hamlet of the Currumbin Eco Village in Queensland, Australia.

The house design evolved over almost 6 months with the resulting plan forming two pavilions linked by an angled breezeway. The development covenants severely restricted the allowable building footprint thus creating challenges to fit and orientate this humble home in an optimum way for this part of the world. The resultant overall form of the main pavilion expresses the need to collect rainwater (the roof faces falling to a large central gutter discharging at both ends into storage tanks). This roof configuration also eliminates any possible sun glare onto neighbours (this building is being considerate).

Stringent building covenants (some over-the-top ones are being legally challenged) included the requirement to use ‘recycled’ materials (timber, tin, concrete, masonry, windows & doors) in the majority of the construction. In this house, it was chosen to use recycled timber flooring, new plywood joists and rafters (intelligent use of timber and easier for the site workers), new plywood & metal claddings. For the Main Deck (the outside ‘day room’) some ‘rescued’ large timbers were used to give this space a subtle distinctive prominence on the north-east corner from where the residents can while away the hours in conversation with friends or neighbours and having a magnificent view over the countryside to enjoy.

A surprise benefit of the ‘butterfly roof’ and the resultant ceiling form in the living area was the magnificent acoustics of the room. The output of a humble CD player can transport the listener to an orchestral auditorium - community singing classes are held in the space. The design was set up so as allow owner input during construction. One of these inputs was the commissioning of some stain glass windows. In the main living area, an eastern highlight features a ‘morning’ bird while the western one displays an ‘evening’ owl. This little gem provides day-to-day joy for the occupants as they go about the daylight hours, growing vegetables, fruit and native flowers.

Geoff Grimes
T/A Synarchi Group

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