Lapping timbers reinterpret building's heritage

James
Thursday 22 Dec 2011

New building determines its own built language while being sympathetic to its environment

Griffiths House is located on the site of HMAS Creswell in Jervis Bay, and provides short term accommodation for Officers of the Royal Australian Navy who undertake leadership and management training. HMAS Creswell, established in 1915, has major national heritage significance and the site is characterised by elegant white washed weatherboard buildings.

The new building sits in an ambiguous zone, alongside more modern buildings of the 1970’s, yet not sitting amongst the original graceful timber and terracotta tiled building stock of Creswell. As such this new building has determined its own built language, in an economic and robust manner whilst being sympathetic to its environment. It utilises the weatherboard cladding and vertical proportioned windows of the original building stock and picks up the gentle curved timber ‘bell’ detail typical in the decorative verandah elements of the original buildings.

It employs simple yet highly effective sustainable devices to create a comfortable internal environment without the need for mechanical ventilation. It is a reverse brick veneer construction which provides thermal mass to the building, with a lightweight ventilated external skin. The corridors are connected vertically with ventilated skylights and voids, and the bedrooms share an outdoor deck, which allows all rooms to be cross ventilated.

The lapped white boards across the majority of building surface, the open boards over stair windows and verandahs, the curved 'bell' at each floor level and the deep reveals provided by the shared decks creates a play of light and shade. This restrained composition allows the single material across the building's facade to be modulated with texture, depth and interest.

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