Concrete blocks, once bound for landfills, have found new purpose in the eco-conscious Sawmill House. Australian architecture firm Archier designed and built the modern industrial home out of 270 one-tonne concrete blocks and other locally sourced materials. Located in Victoria, the passive handcrafted dwelling was built largely by hand and features a custom-built mechanized facade that opens up to maximize natural light and ventilation.
Built on the site of a former gold mine-turned-sawmill, the Sawmill House references the site’s history with an earth-toned materials palette and rough sawn macrocarpa screens. The operable screens, constructed from untreated timber slats, roll back to take advantage of cross-flow ventilation for passive cooling and will develop a pale gray patina over time. During the cooler months, the roof peels back to allow sunlight to flood the home for passive heating.
The stacked recycled concrete blocks form the Sawmill House’s primary walls and retaining walls. The signs of wear on each concrete piece are purposefully preserved as reference to the block’s former life, whether as a bridge building block or as a support for a footpath. Together, the different blocks give the home a richly textured appearance with their patchwork of colors.
Inside, the flexible home features a minimalist industrial aesthetic dominated by wood surfaces and accented with black metal. An open-plan dining, lounge, and kitchen placed on the southwest side of the home connects to the deck via a large operable sliding wall. The master bedroom is located between the open-plan living area and the inner courtyard. An operable wall opens the bedroom to the courtyard, blurring the line between indoor and outdoor space.