Architect James Stockwell completed the design of a crescent-shaped private house resembling a white hill in suburbs of Inverloch, Australia. The house forms a protected garden from which peripheral vision of the sea and sky is permitted by tapered facades. The owners request: Full outlook to and shelter from the coastal vistas in all directions and to be part of the landscape. An unobtrusive unembellished “best practice” home of how to blend in and live together with a magnificent natural environment. The design looks at the core idea of shelter in an exposed environment, and that shelter may contain all the necessary activities of domestic life in an uncompromised way but that the activities are enhanced by participating in the whole and each yields to the other to a much greater extent. It is shielding, robust and embracing. It reinforces the language of the rural context of corrugated iron and purposefulness and has been widely embraced. More broadly it’s ambitions are to illustrate the suitability of low embodied energy local materials in contemporary architecture and that architecture be able to tell a story of place and vernacular of local craftsmanship and materials.
The small material pallet of grey metal and concrete blends with the muted shale geology. The protective exterior is warmed internally by compressed sand thermal mass walls as a fragment of distant sand dunes. The interior structure and joinery is of Vic ash timber and wet areas in bluestone, all Victorian supplied (low food miles). Running costs are minimized by double glazing, isolated thermal mass and passive solar design. The house provides high fire protection. The form of the house distorts mathematical and structural curves to achieve the form. The adopted geometry and composition of three sine curves means details are achievable with 2 dimensional radii. Both concave and convex roof surfaces are 2 dimensional planes and constructed from conventional battens and rafters and corrugated metal. Softwood scissor trusses were erected in 2 days on ‘in plan’ arch ring beams of laminated timber braced by the remnant buttresses. Laminated timber beams most aptly suited the formation of the sine curve form of the building courtyard shape, the natural curve of material ductility.
House plan and design: James Stockwell
Photographs: James Archibald