Page D2.3. 25 April 2007                     
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    House on Red Hill

    continued

    Earthen Material, High-Tech Processes

    The house is constructed of local materials, including rammed earth and ship-lapped cedar paneling. Rammed earth was used in ancient construction, and today 1000-year-old examples still stand. The long, low rammed-earth wall of Red Hill presents a solid public face and helps to protect the house from the western sun. At night, lighting intensifies the rich textures of the natural materials.

    Harty explains: "The textures and materials were selected to age gracefully, forming a patina to mimic the color of the surrounding bush with crisp highlights of stark white and dynamic flashes of red that are anything but muted. The orientation captures the morning light and protects from the harsh afternoon summer sun while taking in the beautiful valley and coastal views."

    The natural materials contribute to a sense of warmth and structural cohesiveness. But there are also touches of technology to confirm the house's modernity. For instance, the backsplash in the kitchen is "specially laminated glass with a digital print interlayer," Botterill explains. "The electronic artwork is prepared in Australia, and sent to the United States [for production]. The interlayer is then sent back to Australia, laminated, and installed."

    Inside Red Hill

    The interior design of Red Hill is flexible and open, with four main spaces: the living/ dining area, the children's bedroom wing, the master bedroom, and the cellar. The whitewashed second-floor master bedroom with valley and coastal views is a fulcrum for the living wing and the lower-level children's bedroom wing.

    "There is an extremely large combined entry, living, dining and kitchen space which is flanked by windows," Botterill says. "This allows for the feeling of openness during the day. At night the light floods out from these windows to illuminate the exterior of the building."

    The interior of the house is directly informed by its exterior. Botterill points to the cedar paneling over the kitchen, which is "allowed to come inside" as confirmation of the relationship between inside and out.

    Another example of his concept is in the living area, where cedar cladding coated with non-oil-based paint extends continuously from the deck to the interior, intersecting a large window. Other than the natural materials that enter the house from outside, most interior walls have been painted bright white to accentuate the beauty of the adjacent natural materials.

    Challenges on Red Hill

    Botterill admits it was difficult, in the project's early stages, to conceive a house of this caliber for the cost of a more conventional house. Overcoming that challenge, he explains, demanded constant reassessment of what was critical to maintain the integrity of the design.

    In his view, being a good designer is one thing, but being able to shave considerable amounts of money off the cost and still retain design integrity is where the real skill lies. Harty adds that design is "a creative art, a technological pursuit and a business venture all rolled in to one profession."

    The Red Hill home is progressive, with a palette of noble materials that creates a sophisticated look designed to last long after its residents have moved on. Sustainable design principles exhibited in this plan look ahead to a day when environmentally friendly buildings will become commonplace in Australia, with legislative changes arming architects with a measurable process and justification to put energy-saving materials and ideas into practice.

    Jennifer LeClaire is a freelance writer based in Miami Beach, Florida, specializing in architecture and design.

     

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    ArchWeek Image

    Red Hill Residence, Mornington Peninsula, Victoria, Australia, by Christopherchris Architecture.
    Photo: © Peter Bennetts

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    Street view, at night.
    Photo: © Peter Bennetts

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    Ground floor plan.
    Image: Christopherchris Architecture

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    Upper floor plan.
    Image: Christopherchris Architecture

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    Glazed facade between deck and interior.
    Photo: © Peter Bennetts

    ArchWeek Image

    Cedar deck and siding.
    Photo: © Peter Bennetts

    ArchWeek Image

    Valley view from master bathroom.
    Photo: © Peter Bennetts

    ArchWeek Image

    White painted walls maximize interior light reflections.
    Photo: © Peter Bennetts

     

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