Situated on a windswept plain near Victoria, Australia, this seemingly modest off-grid house is a treasure trove of sustainable design that settles into the landscape every bit as well as the local barns that inspired it. Delicately placed on the site, the home’s integrated water, heating and solar electrical systems allow for self-sufficiency without sacrifice. The project's standout qualities are highlighted by the eclectic use ofmaterials -- steel, concrete, and reclaimed wood -- which helped Wolveridge Architects rope three major awards at the 2011 Australian Interior Design Awards.
As good green home design goes, everything starts with the site. The house is tucked behind a small rise on the property, which protects it from winter winds. The project’s orientation maximizes exposure to the northern winter sun but reduces exposure to the summer sun on the west and east sides. The form of the house mimics a simple barn – down to the square windows covered by rolling shutter doors and the butt wood siding. A couple of steel and glass cubes at the front and rear set the cue for a more much more dramatic interior.
The architects describe the space as “a rugged but (hopefully) sophisticated interior, characterized by a palette of natural materials, a sense of craftsmanship and childhood reminder of growing up in the 70’s.” The non-pretentious material choices are made even more so by keeping them in their raw state or stained black, enhancing the contrast between the interior and the views out the windows. Dark concrete floors and steel accents are softened by the reclaimed wood ceiling and striking wood end grain wall in the living space.
The home is designed to work with highly insulated walls, roof, and a simple profile. Rainwater catchment, now a common feature in Australian homes, offsets the use of well water. The home runs off-grid using a modest 2 kW solar electric system, and it relies on cross ventilation to keep cool. A wood fired boiler supplemented by solar thermal collectors feeds under floor heating to keep things warm. The combination of rugged materials, refined interiors and low-impact systems give the home a visceral appeal that melds rawness with refinement while maintaining a sense of appropriate environmental design.
Photographs © Derek Swalwell Photography