Windswept, rugged, and surrounded by stunning vistas, Australia’s remote French Island is paradise for nature lovers. Designing and building a comfortable home on the isolated island—which has no power, water, or other services—is not as idyllic a situation. Fortunately, Lai Cheong Brown Architects and Australian modular homebuilder Ecoliv rose to that challenge with the French Island farmhouse, a contemporary prefabricated home that operates off-grid.
With no sealed roads, Australia’s French Island is only accessible by passenger ferry or charter barge service. As a result, off-site prefabrication was the most sensible option for the farmhouse project. Lai Cheong Brown Architects completed the farmhouse in two phases, beginning with site modifications and the installation of waste treatment systems, water collection, photovoltaic power supply, and other important services for comfortable off-grid living. The second stage consisted of off-site prefabrication followed by the installation of the five farmhouse modules that were transported via barge across Victoria’s Westernport Bay.
To provide protection against the site’s harsh winds, the farmhouse is arranged in a courtyard layout to shelter a central outdoor patio closed in with glazing on four sides. The roofs are angled inwards to facilitate water collection, while solar energy is harnessed via photovoltaic panels on the side of the secondary building. The house is elevated off the ground to minimize site disturbance and is clad in steel and Australian hardwood. Large windows overlook a 270-degree view of the sea towards the Bass Strait and the surrounding rolling pastures.
Images © Jaime Diaz Berrio