This house is situated on the south facing edge of a moist bushland valley north of Sydney. In winter the ground is damp and shaded, while in summer the place can be uncomfortably hot and dry with the only cool breeze high up in the trees. The land surrounding the house is shared by several families, as such any building needs to consider the privacy and outlook of neighbours.
In response to the primary concerns of coolness, heat and privacy, Verandah House is designed around a primary concrete platform that has been elevated towards the bush canopy. From this solid base the life of the house moves off both vertically and horizontally. The base also provides thermal mass for passive heating and cooling.
Controlled sunlight is drawn and reflected into the various interior spaces of the building between a long line of structural plywood fins that have been placed along a corridor wall. This corridor forms the emotional spine of the house, inviting light, colour and shadow into play.
Lifting the building off the ground allows it to reach out to the breeze, to avoid dampness and to catch the winter sun, while also leaving the under-croft free as a shaded place for kids to play.
Verandah House experiments with the proposition that an open-walled, semi-exposed room, set under an extended canopy, is a more appropriate dwelling space for most Australian buildings than the traditional enclosed and mechanically cooled ‘room’ spaces that now predominate.
This warm and cool place, under the edge of the canopy, with access to cooking and washing facilities, is an idyllic, simple zone for living. It catches the sun and the breeze and welcomes the natural environment into the lives of the family who dwell here. Hovering amidst the tree canopy.
Text and Images taken from ‘Under the Edge : the Architecture of Peter Stutchbury’ published by the Architecture Foundation Australia, 2008. Photos : Michael Nicholson. Text : Peter Stutchbury and Ewan McEoin.