The Hilltop Hood House was conceived as a positive response to a once heavily wooded seaside site at Wye River, where the forest literally meets the sea. It had recently endured devastating a bushfire in late 2015. Initially commissioned in 2009, the design went through many modifications and adjustments to suit new Bushfire Codes, landslip concerns, geotechnical issues, site services, access and environmental requirements.
The response is a rather protective, dark, metal clad exterior shell that is an almost totally self-sustaining house, opening internally as a light, bright and airy space capturing spectacular ocean views. Context in this project is extreme, a 32-degree pitch steep site, now sparsely wooded with semi-mature gums. The steep site necessitated that elevated driveway access and stair be built from which visitors then descend to the house’s upper level main living area and cantilevered deck. Below three bedrooms, bathrooms and a small living space are tucked into the hillside. Underneath is a basement level with concealed services, water tank and septic treatment equipment.
Solar power panels, heat pump hydronic and water heating, high level insulation and fire rated windows and shutters combined with careful materials and equipment selection, have all contributed to a sustainable, bushfire protected house on a hill. The site has access to electricity only, no water, sewer, gas or storm water are available. All stormwater collected is stored in concealed tanks with 30,000 ltr. capacity.