Shane O'Brien – Bachelor of Architecture

Category: Building approval

Being accepted to design a substantial house and outbuildings on a large rural site was exciting. There were a lot of briefed issues to be considered: many and frequent visitors; kitchen as the heart; roaring fires; robustness; easy care; the growing and active family; an evolving family eventually leaving home and visiting as young families; pool house; gym; home office; helping hands; machinery storage; environmental issues; limited power and services; stabling of the ponies; dogs, chooks; books…

View into the 20 hectare rural site

View into the 20 hectare rural site

Many sketches were produced in the early stages, in order to arrive at appropriate solutions. A significant number of sketches passed hands between myself and the interior designers appointed for the project.

One of many early sketches

One of many early sketches

"countryhouse" "ruralproperty" "stables"

3D CAD image of proposed country house in the Southern Highlands NSW

The house came to comprise a main living pavilion, children’s bedroom pavilion, pool house, double garage, machinery shed and stables.

The house performed particularly well in terms of it’s energy rating compliance, incorporating a number of systems to support it’s efficient, sustainable design:

  • North facing living areas.
  • Shading to west and east facades.
  • Heavy, pelmeted curtains.
  • Double glazed timber framed glazing.
  • Compartmentalisation of spaces.
  • Cross flow ventilation.
  • Thermal mass – concrete floor slabs / brick wall ‘spine’..
  • Solar assisted gas hydronic slab heating.
  • Solar hot water.
  • Photovoltaic cells.
  • Wetback fireplace – to assist hydronic heating.
  • 100,000 litre underground water storage.
  • Solar pool heating.

Some of the issues that effected the architecture, the site layout and the materials incorporated were: bushfire compliance requirements; distantly located mains power; no town water or sewer; access to the families ponies; and visual amenity.

The result is a striking contemporary residence proposed to be clad in fibre cement weatherboards, concrete block, folded copper sheet, galvanised steel sheet, cedar and hardwood.