Usually a sustainable house is described as having a small environmental ‘footprint’. The ‘handprint’ house certainly aims to do just that, but also makes a gentle impression on the earth, and reaches out to connect with the beautiful landscape.
The site near Ballarat has stunning views from the ridge where the house is to be located, down across a valley and creek to the west, and out to two of the area’s notorious extinct volcanoes on the horizon – Mt Buninyong and Mt Warenheip – beyond the ancient eucalypts. The location feels really secluded from the world, despite having a trainline and impressive railway bridge spanning across the creek to the north-west of the site.
The family wanted a sustainable, off-grid home for their farm, that responded to it’s unique site and embraced the views to the west, whilst providing shelter from the harsh elements all year round. As the functional/spatial brief is not modest, a holistic approach is applied to the sustainable design of the house to minimise its ecological footprint.
The concept was to create three separate ‘wings’ (or fingers) for the different zones of the home (which reach out into the landscape and grasp those views) with sheltered courtyard spaces between which provide some protection from the cold southerly winds. The ‘fingers’ pay tribute to simple farm-shed typology, wrapped in corrugated metal, with each one housing living and sleeping zones, all oriented to ensure they receive as much northern sunlight as possible over the long Ballarat winter. Custom awnings will shade the north-facing windows, and sliding shade-screens and large overhangs to the west help protect from the intense summer sun.
The fortress-like, curved rammed earth wall is all that can be seen of the house upon arrival. This conceals what is beyond, so the views can only be enjoyed once you’ve entered the private domain of the home. This strong mass wall visually anchors the building to the site, and links the outstretched fingers. The window openings in the earth wall create a colonnade that echoes the rhythm of the train-bridge structure beyond. Functionally, the spaces behind the curved wall are mainly the service zones/wet-areas, with a sweeping hallway that curves from one end of the house to the other.
The result is a sanctuary where the family can comfortably enjoy both the indoors and outdoors throughout all the seasons of the year.
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About the architects
At Talina Edwards Architecture: elemental design studio, we are passionate about helping you create a beautiful, healthy, comfortable, functional & sustainable home (& life!) you love, that doesn’t cost the earth.”
What is 'elemental design'? We believe this is the holistic approach to architecture that results in the best outcome for your project. The benefits of combining our building-science expertise with our intuitive approach results in soul-enriching homes that not only feel special to be in, but are also comfortable, healthy, resilient and energy-efficient.
We believe in delivering the healthiest, highest-performing and lowest-energy buildings in the world, with proven performance thanks to rigorous building-science and the international passivhaus standard. Talina and Mia are both Certified Passivhaus Designers.
What is biophilic design? We all have deep desire to be connected to nature, and this experience can bring us joy and improved wellbeing. Our projects are designed to with this in mind - aiming to engage all of our senses, with consideration of all the elements, which leads to a more enriching experience of the architecture.