The Koonwarra House
The Koonwarra House is a modest weekender home situated on a small country lot for a retiring couple and family. The house starts and finishes on the following basic design principles; simple efficient planning and form, orientation, siting, materials and outlook. Located midway down the property, past neighbouring semi-rural farmhouses, the L shaped house is sited to hug the north light orientation and grab the uninterrupted rolling country Gippsland views.
The aim, with a modest budget, was to provide an open plan house, with ample indoor and outdoor living areas, two beds, two bathrooms and a study. Inspired by Australian modernist and Californian mid-century case study houses, the layout responds to a modular grid featuring large glazed walls protected by generous eaves, pergolas and battening.
The design actively responds to its environment: the slope of the land and site has been taken into consideration. The residence, slots into and hovers lightly in the landscape, further complimenting the surrounds with timber shiplap vertical cladding and black metal framing. The flat roof is punctuated by a sloping highlight roof pop up, accentuated internally with expressed roof framing. Living areas are provided with northern sunlight access and the decking is extended with no balustrades to interrupt the views. The stacking and sliding glazed doors provide a seamless transition from indoor to outdoor space.
Overall, the house demonstrates passive design principles with a low running and maintenance cost. Rainwater is collected into tanks and is re-used in toilet flushing and gardens. The solar hot water and a dual tank eco sensitive wastewater system have been installed. Solar gain is controlled through north facing double glazed aluminium windows and glazed doors. The house is protected from the harsh summer sun with battened pergola and eaves. Cross ventilation is achieved throughout the house with minimal A/C required. The house is clad in robust local timber, left to age requiring little maintenance over time. An efficient combustion heater/ stove does the majority of heating.
Programmatically the house responds to the site, orientation and the client’s desires. The services areas and access are simple and logical; the main living wing, with its central cast iron heating stove, lightly separate dining from lounge functions, with the kitchen to the east, featuring bamboo benchtops and wrap around glass corner. The stepped decking terrace, with built in seat, are perfect for that outdoor BBQ lunch, linking an elevated deck to the grassy paddocks and dams beyond
The Koonwarra house fits comfortably into the landscape with its timber cypress cladding and relationship to views of dams, animals and country life, providing more than just an escape from the city.