The fluid nature of verandah space has been integral to my research into houses for some time now. From this research two distinct elements have emerged in my work – the (anti-tectonic) outer skin and the ambiguous plan where use, function, inside and outside are organised in accordance with the non dogmatic nature of verandah space as it exists in the Australian context. The operable outer skin protects and shades, opens and closes spaces to views and nurtures the occupants.
The house is positioned on top of a hill on a 40ha site to take advantage of beautiful views to the distant ocean but the views are to the west and the house is exposed to a powerful prevailing wind. In the summer hot northerlies blow across the site and it is as a counterpoint to this exposure that the house forms a ‘L’ shape and digs itself into the ground to provide sheltered outdoor space for the occupants. Key functional spaces are located discretely along the length of the plan and connected by covered outdoor terraces rather than corridors. In Australia the verandah is traditionally transformed in this way to make a sun room, a sleep out or a place to eat in the cool of the evening. To help the house to breathe there are slices through the east /west spine wall so that air can move from south to north. The ground slab is insulated, the windows are double glazed and the mullions are split to eliminate thermal bridging, the spine wall structure is concrete filled masonry to add thermal mass. Rainwater is harvested and stored in a 100,000 litre in ground tank, sewerage is treated and used to irrigate the garden and an array of solar collectors is located on a shed roof to the south west of the main house. The floor is recycled black butt and the in-floor heating, run entirely from tank water, reverses in summer to act as a heat sink to help cool the house in summer.
Location: Mornington Peninsula, Victoria Australia