This award winning architectural design has been recognised by the NSW Institute of Architects Regional Division, winning a commendation in the Multiresidential Category and also won the 2006 Termimesh Timber Design Award.
The programme here was to provide two new townhouses in an ‘inner suburban’ street in the country town of Griffith NSW. The brief was simple, to provide 3 or 4 bedroom houses with double lock up garaging & a level of privacy from the street. The buildings were to be low maintenance, energy efficient and there was a desire to have a simple rationalised roof system, rather than the typical ‘hip and a gable all over the place’ method. The houses need to cater for a variety of outcomes – rentals, owner occupy or develop & sell one off. The site is located in Binya Street, one of the original town subdivisions as laid out by Walter Burley Griffin.
Internal planning is rationalised by locating all services on the western side of the building, fitting within the 1800 wide ‘services’ zone. The circulation space has been widened to create a gallery effect for art display, and further widens further at the courtyard junctions to allow each to have a double-height entrance hall and an open study area. Access to all rooms occur along the multi-use circulation space to ensure spatial efficiency. Sleeping quarters all sit within a three metre wide ‘bedroom zone’ that runs down the east side of the houses, divided by two courtyards, all rooms & circulation space having sliding door access to these courtyards. The garage to the north & living area at the south end of the house take up the full width of the house.
Due to the blocks effectively running the opposite way that is ideal winter sun penetration, North sun for passive heating in winter was achieved by cutting into the simple gable form over the living area, leaving the living area with a raked ceiling that has triangular glazed ends. Courtyards cut into the main building volume to create light & sun wells for the bedrooms & entry points to the houses. This arrangement leads to abundance of natural light & privacy throughout the house such that artificial light during the day is not required. Raked ceilings are used adjacent the courtyard cut-outs to provide a ‘heat chimney’, with high louvre bays venting the hot air to the outside courtyard. The courtyards were designed to be heavily planted & cooled with a misting irrigation system, the idea for the ‘courtyards as lungs’ for the house came about due to the fact that really the only way to naturally ventilate a house in this climate is to modify it with shade, planting & humidifying it before it enters the house – there is no such thing as a cooling breeze in Griffith during the summer months! The courtyards are also enjoyed as outdoor play spaces.
The living area has north facing glass set into the gable for winter passive heating, together with sun penetration into the courtyards in winter. This achieves maximum daylight hours for sun penetration into the living areas. In summer the courtyards are designed to have roll down blinds below the polycarbonate roof cladding.
The majority of the house is constructed of reverse brick veneer construction, finished internally with bagging & externally with insulated stud frame wall with horizontal zincalume custom orb sheeting. The reverse brick veneer combined with the slab on ground help keep temperatures under control in summer and help retain & re-radiate heat in the winter. These long east & west facing walls have no window penetrations to minimise any heat gain in winter, all sun & light into the house is via north/south glass or courtyards.
The houses have been met with good support from the client, locals & the council, who have since approved the development for the first free-hold subdivision of its type in the area.