The core of our clients initial brief was a photograph. The photo showed a family of three generations; grandparents, their five children, and a swarm of grandchildren in tow. This project was to include a country retreat for them all. A new home that could house a lifetime of past and future memories.
The project site has been enjoyed by this family for many years, residing in a number of workers cottages, each with their own unique view across the vast river valley, and a direct connection to the Cox’s River below. It is a special place where the children (big and small) swim in the river, lunch on log benches, ride horses, grow veggie’s and pick fruit from the many fruit trees. One of the existing cottages, ‘Stonelea’, was chosen as the site for the new home. The memory of ‘Stonelea’ saved by retaining the pink granite from the existing chimney pillar.
Winding downwards along the private, dusty drive, the burnt tones and grey shades of the Australian bush prelude the first impressions of the new ‘Stonelea’ house - a unified, elongated and low-lying form that addresses the clients’ wish for “country honesty and earthiness”. A very Australian language of timber shiplap wall cladding and metal sheet roof on a podium of local stone, helps to tie this new form into the river valley panorama.
This rusticity of the material palette flows through internal spaces with pitched ceilings of meranti plywood and tapered blackbutt rafters that float above burnished concrete floors. Large sliding doors open living spaces out to a wrap-around timber deck, paved stone terraces & native gardens. A gallery of recycled blackbutt shiplap cladding, sliding glass doors & external timber screens, creates a link between living spaces & bedrooms. Double height, timber lined stair-wells descend into the stone plinth below. One timber stair provides access to the cellar and wine tasting room for the adults while an alternate stair leads to a rumpus room for the kids. If both adults and children alike require outdoor recreation, the swimming pool and terrace will provide hours of fun and enjoyment.
The clients wanted a practical house built on sound environmental principles. Passive design combined with technological initiatives for power generation, water collection, heating and cooling mean that the operational footprint on the environment is minimised. Oriented along an east-west axis with glazed north-facing openings, and low overhanging eaves, the house follows the most important passive solar principles.
During summer the house opens up to allow for cross-ventilation, with flyscreens closed to keep out flies from neighbouring cattle stations. External screens of timber battens provide further shade especially to the west when the sun finds it way under eave overhangs. Ceiling fans keep occupants cool during still summer nights. In the colder months the sun shines deep inside to warm concrete floors slabs.
This provides thermal mass necessary to regulate overnight temperatures. A geothermal system provides hot water and heated floors and is supported by a solar array large enough to power the entire house. This is a house that can now sustainably continue a legacy of family memories amongst the backdrop of the rural Australian bush.
Principal Architect - Matthew Woodward
Senior Project Architect - Patrick Maitland
Architectural Graduate - Callum Eve
Builder: PCM Projects
Structural Engineer: James Taylor & Associates
Landscape Design: Michael Cooke Garden Design
Bushfire Protection: Bushfire Consulting Services
Town Planner: Boskae Environmental Planning
Private Certifier: Leonard Keeble