The site is dominated by two huge Lemon Scented Gums to the east which grow in a large garden bed that defines the main entrance to Ardrie Park in Malvern East. There are more huge pine trees to the south of the site which also tower above the buildings and provide a buffer to the house. An extension has been added to the rear of the existing Californian bungalow that was protected by local heritage controls. The new works connect to the back of the main tiled roof of the old house. The entire design revolves around the Lemon Scented Gums. Three children’s bedrooms with large box windows are pointed directly at them. The whole of the ground floor living spaces open directly towards them. A pool and massive deck is positioned directly below them.
These gums, the shadows they cast and the light they reflect inform the whole of the design.
Concrete, steel, timber and brick are the dominant materials. Concrete and brick are selected for their ability to store energy and regulate the temperature of the building as well as for their durability. Timber is selected to insulate the upper floor and reflect the dominant gums to the east. Steel is used for its strength and lightness. The entire first floor hovers above the ground floor as a timber box complete with timber ceiling punctured by black steel box windows.
The timber ceiling exists as permanent formwork for the concrete slab that is suspended above. This slab allows the house to be heated using in slab hydronic heating, provides a massive bank of thermal mass to regulate the first floor temperature and also provides a massive sound barrier between the living spaces and children’s bedrooms above.
All heating is by in slab hydronic heating that is operated by a heat pump which in turn is powered by solar panels producing electricity on the first floor roof. The only cooling is by fans or on really hot days the heat pump can be reversed to pump chilled water through the hydronic heating pipes in the slabs. There is no air conditioning. Another key feature is the use of recycled materials. Bricks were salvaged from the old paving and used for the new walls. Oregon rafters were salvaged and used to create the timber grain in the feature concrete walls which hold up the suspended first floor above. All of the feature ceiling beams and lining are recycled black butt, as are the timber elements in the bathrooms, TV cabinet, kitchen window and BBQ.
Other key design features include;
-A large void is utilised over the dining space to allow the northern winter sun to enter over the top of the old house roof and fill the living and kitchen spaces.
-This same void is dominated by the indoor vertical garden.
-An above ground pool has been used to eliminate the need for a separate pool fence. This both saves space and allows the pool to sit as a sculptural element in the garden.
-Three of the primary materials have been utilised in many different ways;
--Steel has been used for three major components of the building – steel windows, the main structure which is expressed in the timber ceiling and for the shelving in the kitchen and pantry.
--Concrete is both polished for floors at ground floor level and used off form for the major structural component in the kitchen.
--Timber is used for cladding, floors, ceilings, cabinets, feature benches and decking.
-Automated louvres are utilised in the children’s bedrooms to allow the glass to be fully shaded on hot days as well as to provide complete privacy and dark when sleeping.