A clean, green and comfortable machine

Modernist in style, and thoroughly modern in its functionality, the Soulsby residence in East Gippsland looks deceptively simple from the outside.

Designed in what is effectively a basic rectangle by John McAuley Architecture, the house manages to tick all the boxes for the busy family of five who call it home.

Located in a new semi-rural housing estate in East Gippsland, the house has a split personality, with the south side being minimal in its scale and exposure to the street, whilst the north side contains expansive glazing and high ceilings, connecting easily to the rear yard and pool.

MODERN LOOK: The clean lines and simple forms of the Soulsby House reference the site responsive, energy efficient and cost effective homes of post-war Australian Modernism. Photos: Felix Mooneeram

MODERN LOOK: The clean lines and simple forms of the Soulsby House reference the site responsive, energy efficient and cost effective homes of post-war Australian Modernism. Photos: Felix Mooneeram

While the site enjoyed fabulous north views and aspect, the challenge was to design a house that was open to these views and the lovely rear yard, whilst maintaining a sense of privacy and retreat - particularly from the street to the south, and from neighbours to east and west.

CENTRAL SPACE: The kitchen is located in the heart of the house and operates as the 'command centre'.

CENTRAL SPACE: The kitchen is located in the heart of the house and operates as the 'command centre'.

A key challenge of the brief was to deliver a house that was energy efficient - to ensure year round thermal comfort and minimal ongoing heating and cooling costs - whilst working to a limited construction budget.

The busy clients were to construct the house themselves, so the design needed to be simple, energy efficient and cost effective to construct and maintain.

The solution was to rationalise the layout of the house into a simple rectangle, with the primary living areas and master bedroom suite on the north side, and the kids bedrooms and service spaces on the south. A simple, single pitch roof rises to the north, facilitating extensive 3.2m high windows along the north facade, while on the south side glazing is contained to a single framed 'strip' of windows.

The front door is recessed - both for privacy and weather protection - behind an austere concrete garage, presenting a restrained presence to the street.

To minimise exposure to neighbours as well as harsh winds and weather, the east and west end facades of the house are left blank, with heavily insulated double stud walls.

The kitchen is located in the heart of the house at the junction between the various zones, and operates as the 'command centre' for the family. The childrens' zone at the east end is able to be shut off acoustically and thermally from the rest of the house, anticipating future usage.

To minimise exposure to harsh weather, the outdoor living area is recessed under the main roof line enabling enclosure on three sides without inhibiting light or views to the primary living areas inside. The north facade is 'framed' by a single eave along its length, proportioned to permit winter sun and shield summer sun.

Through the living and master bedroom areas, raked ceilings maximise winter light penetration and natural ventilation through highlight windows, and a feature masonry wall and concrete hearth are positioned behind the wood fire for thermal mass to assist with passive heating and cooling. This has resulted in a house that requires minimal heating and cooling year round.

The simple passive design principles that informed the planning, building form and construction of the home reference the site responsive, energy efficient and cost effective homes of post war Australian Modernism - a particular passion of this 'Modern Family'.

Comments