Aussie Architecture Awards 2009
On a windswept site in Australia's Snowy Mountains stands a rounded, steel-clad form, like a sleek spacecraft among the grasses. Anchored to a concrete plinth, this ground-hugging shelter by James Stockwell Architect deflects wind and transfers snow loads while offering its occupants expansive views of the Snowy and Thredbo River Valleys.
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The Snowy Mountains House was recognized by the Australian Institute of Architects in its 2009 national architecture awards. Other honorees include a performing arts center in Melbourne, a riverside park in Sydney, and the National Portrait Gallery in Canberra. While one office building was recognized as exceptionally sustainable, many of the other projects also include elements of "green" design.
In designing the Snowy Mountains House in Kalkite, New South Wales, James Stockwell created an updated version of the simple, galvanized-steel mountain huts common in nearby Kosciuszko National Park.
The vaulted living room opens up to the scenery through large windows, the views framed by the parabolic arch-shaped opening at the west end of the vacation home and the angular buttresses at its sides. In contrast, the eastern part of the 220-square-meter (2,400-square-foot) house forms a protective cocoon for the bedrooms and service areas.
Materials were selected for durability and minimal maintenance requirements: polished concrete for floors, plywood cladding for walls, and corrugated steel cladding for ceilings.
The house is also equipped to operate essentially independently, with a rainwater storage system for domestic and firefighting use, a one-kilowatt photovoltaic array, and an efficient wood-burning fireplace that provides hydronic underfloor heating and hot-water heating.
The awards jury applauded the architect's "straightforward finesse."
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