Community members were given the opportunity to meet six architects and learn about designing and building homes in townships similar to Wye River and Separation Creek, at the first 6×6 architectural design exhibition and workshop in Wye River on Saturday 18 June.
The exhibition was curated by EdwardsMoore Architects and commissioned by the Office of the Victorian Government Architect.
For those who were unable to attend, below is a quick snapshot of the six architects and their unique home designs for bushfire-prone areas.
A second 6×6 exhibition is scheduled to take place in Melbourne on Tuesday 19 July at 5:30pm located at the Treasury Theatre, 1 Macarthur Street, East Melbourne.
Karri Fire House – Ian Weir and Kylie Feher
Ian Weir and Kylie Feher presented the Karri Fire House, which was designed for a professional firefighter (station captain) and his family. They developed a ‘fire plan’ prior to the build, which was incorporated into the design.
Sited in Denmark, Western Australia, the Karri Fire House conserves and celebrates its remarkable setting by prioritising bushfire resilience above vegetation clearing. With a thorough understanding of the Australian Standard for Building in Bushfire Prone Areas, Ian and Kylie together with their client, developed a highly-integrated design wherein energy efficiency and bushfire safety features are cross-purposed.
A tip from Ian and Kylie: “It is important to consider bushfire attack levels in your design from the start. Don’t build a conventional house and hope to change it later on – and build features such as shutters that you will use every day, rather than just once in a bushfire emergency.”
House at Big Hill – Kerstin Thompson Architects
Kelley Mackay, Director of Projects at Kerstin Thompson Architects, presented House at Big Hill, a triangular plan home covering 260m2 that is semi-recessed into its sloping site near the Great Ocean Road, and is the holiday home of a couple and their extended family.
Constructed from concrete block, it is a solid retreat that contrasts with the traditional lightweight timber beach house, and was designed to take in the 180º views towards Lorne and Airey’s Inlet.
While the project represents a highly bespoke home for its clients, its design features and materials offer valuable lessons for builds with more modest budgets.
Kelley discussed her firm’s involvement in rebuilding the Marysville Fire Station and the importance of working closely with emergency services agencies in the design and build process.
Tip from Kelley: “Utilise the knowledge of local trades, builders and suppliers and embrace materials and design elements that work with the BAL ratings rather than see them as extra/added cost measures.”
Slope House – EdwardsMoore Architects
Ben Edwards from EdwardsMoore presented his design which is a personal project – building a small coastal getaway on a modest budget.
Having purchased land down in Karingal Drive last year, Ben is building a small home on a 38º slope that essentially involves having the space for somewhere to sleep, a fireplace and a good view.
Ben has created a modular-style, shipping container design which can be kitted-out, transported to Wye River via helicopter and installed on the site – which can be a cost-effective alternative for those looking at smaller designs.
A tip from Ben: “Hiring a geotechnical engineer is an invaluable way to fully understand the constraints and opportunities on your block of land.”
Skenes Creek House – MRTN
Antony Martin from MRTN showed some of his designs in areas such as Venus Bay, Trentham and Daylesford and talked about his Skenes Creek design which is currently awaiting approval.
The Skenes Creek House design is his response to a brief from a client whose property was destroyed by an electrical fire. The design considered factors such as a smaller land size than initially thought and incorporated strategies for similar incidents in future.
Antony spoke about the assessment of fire risk and how the orientation of the structure and bushfire resilience features were selected to optimise the overall result.
He expects construction of the Skenes Creek House to take 12 months and reiterated the importance of giving due consideration to BAL-friendly materials.
A tip from Antony: “Be sure to undertake land risk and land capability assessments in order to inform your design from the start.”
Tree House – Jackson Clements Burrows
Graham Burrows from Jackson Clements Burrows presented the Tree House, which is situated in the bush fringe of Separation Creek, perched on a steep forested hillside above the Great Ocean Road and Bass Strait.
The steepness of this particular site, landscape controls and landslip potential resulted in a limited building envelope to work within. However, JCB saw the opportunity to explore a sensitive yet sculptural response that minimised its footprint by echoing in form a tree with branches, to take advantage of views, access and aspect.
While encouraging residents to be cognisant of the visual impacts of the rebuild in this special environment, Graham made the poignant statement that the community can turn adversity and constraints into opportunity and there is a chance to create stronger and more resilient townships here.
Graham remarked that a holistic design approach addressing the site constraints, slope, access, energy efficiency, living comfort and useability, can have overall benefits to minimise overall costs.
A tip from Graham: “Bushfire is just one component of building for resilience – consider all elements of the environment when undertaking the design process.”
Avalon House – Archiblox
Bill McCorkell from Archiblox presented the Avalon House, a modular-based, pre-fabricated home suitable for reasonable build and installation time frames.
Situated on a sloping site, the home is 106m2 in size but grand in design intent. Driven by a sustainable method, the home features lineal structure with east-west orientation allowing cross ventilation, maximised north windows allowing for enjoyment of the northern sun and a Green Roof which minimises rainwater runoff and solar penetration.
Having spent many summers at Wye River, Bill spoke of his understanding that a home up on the hill with a view gives a strong sense of protection and calm for residents. Appreciation of the landscape is important and with every limitation there is opportunity – as good architecture should be accessible to all.
A tip from Bill: “Don’t look for a quick and easy solution. Take the time to think not only about your budget and brief, but how you live – where you walk in after a surf, where your relaxation zone is. This is equally important when considering design.”