Two Houses in East Australia
The northwestern and southwestern elevations of Sanctuary Place House, which bear the brunt of searing afternoon summer sun, as well as storms and winter winds, are wrapped in black agricultural shade cloth that reduces heat gain by 80 percent.
Moveable screens enclose an additional 60 square meters (650 square feet) of outdoor space, defining circulation paths as well as providing sun shading, insect protection, and a basic level of security that allows doors and windows to remain open nine months a year.
Rather than having a single front door, the house can be approached from many sides. A small swimming pool, sited to catch morning sun, fronts the house's monolithic street facade, which is set back six meters (20 feet), as the development requires. The dining and office areas overlook the pool and street, and a bathroom features an exterior exit for easy access to the pool.
The heart of the house is a spacious northern deck that serves as a soaring threshold to the parkland beyond. Accessed via 5.7-meter- (19-foot-) high sliding glass doors off a double-height living-dining space, the area is screened and shaded during the summer months, while deep sun penetrates the closed doors during winter to warm the core of the home. Mechanical heating and cooling are not required.
The master bedroom suite, adjacent to a private courtyard, lies behind this space. A media and game room off the main foyer contains a fireplace and jarrah-wood built-ins. Upstairs are the children's rooms and a guest room. Below ground, an inventive wine cellar hides in a series of shallow closets, and the office features a clerestory window with a view to native silver streaks (Dianella tasmanica) planted outside. Ironbark wood is use for floors and decking throughout the house.
An attached garage serves the homeowners, while inconspicuous guest parking is located down an incline beyond the house. The exterior benches and landscaping, which connects visually to the natural environment beyond, were created by Australian designer Andrew Feeney.
Lighting in the home is fluorescent or LED, and water heating is provided by a heat pump. A solar power-to-grid system, which provides approximately half the current power needs of the house, can be enhanced as funds become available.
Debra Pickrel is the award-winning coauthor of Frank Lloyd Wright in New York: The Plaza Years, 1954-1959, and has written about architecture and design for Architectural Record, House Beautiful, Metropolis, and Preservation. A journalism graduate of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Pickrel received her M.A. in historic preservation from Goucher College in Baltimore, Maryland. She recently visited Australia at the invitation of the Queensland government to view the work of architects practicing sustainable design.
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