Friday 21 October 2011

The Design

From the time we made the first offer on the block we started thinking of designs, but did not want to get too attached until the block was ours, in case things did not work out.   We had previously been to Japan and I was strongly influenced by their architecture. I read numerous books on Japanese house design, both modern and traditional. I did not want to build a mock Japanese house but was more influenced by their concepts and philosophies behind their buildings. Their love of asymmetry influenced me add some breaks from the symmetrical. I was also influenced by their appreciation and expression of the natural characteristics of materials and appreciating the changes that occur as they age.  The traditional Japanese approach of designing the garden at the same time as the house and the consideration of the view from each window and part of the house, led me to the conceptualise several small gardens and courtyards only visible from certain rooms, as well as being able to look back at the house from inside the house.

I had also read Christopher Alexander’s “A Pattern Language” and “A Timeless Way of Building “ two years prior and kept many of the concepts in the back of my mind rather than directly referring to the books. We did not want an extravagant house, but had to keep in mind the dreaded “resale value” in case we needed to sell and recoup our money. I read Sarah Susanka’s the “The Not so Big House” and several other similar books from our local library. I also borrowed every book on ecological design, house building and the like that the library had. I wanted to keep the footprint to 100m2 but ended up at 120m2. The three bedrooms are called bedrooms but were deliberately sized so that they could be used as family rooms, tv rooms, play rooms, studios, studies etc, and even to allow these functions as well as providing for sleeping,  to allow for flexibility in the house as our needs change without the need for useless or rarely used rooms.

The pavilion concept slowly developed over many sketch drawings. It allows for good solar access and natural ventilation however, it does however mean that there are lots of external walls and lots of windows. It also shows the influence of Japanese design on the building. I wanted the design to be passive solar and referred back to my 10 year old copy of Nick Hollo’s “Warm House, Cool House” which I still find relevant and probably one of the most accessible and easy to understand books on passive solar design (I understand there is a new edition out soon). I even read the “Sunlight and shade in NSW” which was perhaps more technical than I needed, but fascinating for those who really want to understand the position and movement of the sun.

A Permaculture Design Course I had done previously meant that I was keenly aware of observing my site; the path of the sun at different times of the year and the differing shadows cast and the direction of the winds to both invite and exclude. 

And so the design evolved through many sketches, from two storeys to one, to prevent overlooking, angled to the block to catch the northern light and not have windows looking directly into neighbours yards. It developed further with helpful input over dinner from Ken, who is studying Architectural Technology, moving closer the the finished design and after many months of work in a form ready to obtain preliminary quotes.

No comments:

Post a Comment