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The client brief comprised two clear requirements: to provide a contemporary and flexible dwelling for a growing family; and retain the character while improving the liveability of the existing 1950s house. Both of these requirements were rigorously explored through preparation of numerous design options. These options were reviewed and revised to arrive at a solution that satisfied brief and budget and best responded to the site attributes. The resultant building is a “good fit” for the clients’ lifestyle and is a testament to the rigorous nature of brief and design review.
The building provides a highly sustainable and environmentally responsive dwelling requiring minimal mechanical thermal control. It provides a “test-case” for an innovative reverse core-filled block veneer construction technique at a residential scale. A simple bagged and painted finish to the internal block walls provides a highly cost-effective and robust interior canvas for display of the clients’ art works.
The retention and celebration of the existing Liquidambar tree in the back yard immediately settles the new buildings onto the site. Despite the clear visual difference between the old and new there is a sense that the completed project truly belongs on this block.
- Internal thermal mass is provided in through reverse core-filled block walls to regulate interior temperature through passive means.
- The project required significant coordination with the structural engineer to ensure the successful use of this reverse core-filled block veneer structural system. The system uses a 190mm concrete block as both structural and interior wall. The use of core-filled concrete block for interior walls meant all services needed to be carefully coordinated and positioned within the block cavity prior to core filling.
- External wall elements are highly insulated to isolate the thermal mass of the interior core-filled wall
- High levels of natural ventilation result from the articulated building forms and large areas of openable doors and windows
- Overhangs are designed to shade or expose windows and façades seasonally
- Roof water is harvested for the water tanks and/or returned to the groundwater via soaks.
Location: Canberra, Australian Capital Territory (ACT), Australia
Area: 258 sqm.
Architects: Townsend + Associates Architects
Design Architect: Bruce Townsend
Project Team: Ben Walker and Robbie Speight
Photographs: Cameron Bloom