PORT DOUGLAS QLD
Published in 21st Century Houses - 150 of the World's Best
The project is a holiday house for the extended (w)right family - this is where the conceptual framework emerged in the form of helicoidal minimal surface geometry - like that of the wright brother's first kite flyer, airfoils and even in the tail of a breaching southern right whale. We needed to find the "(w)right proportion" as a means to generate the spacial plan geometries - the divine proportion or golden section. Utilising the statutory property boundary offsets we reached the maximum allowable plot ratio with a golden rectangle, which was disected by the golden spiral found in the local nautilus shell. These geometries have further extended into the landscape and formed the structure for the design of paving patterns, planters, garden beds and plant selection. The maximum and minimum allowable roof pitches were applied to achieve the 'whale tail' roof form in compliance with building covenants. The result is a striking building which has an undeniable public presence, visible from the main road into Port Douglas. The project acts as a counterpoint to the neighbouring Queenslanders and suggests an alternative..
This is progressive tropical architecture. The entire house opens onto reflection ponds and pools allowing for evaporative cooling of air pulled through the house by virtue of the engineered ESD initiatives, such as thermal chimneys with mechanically operated vents at high level forming feature clerestory voids to the articulated plywood ceilings. The floor podium consists of a singular monolithic raised white concrete slab - ventilated under, and polished atop to expose the feature river bed aggregate from Emerald QLD, resembling a macro landscape. The roof cavity is double insulated and separately vented utilising venturi effect - eliminating heat gain from roof penetration. The result is a very 'cool' house. Sweeping arcs of evolution ply sunshading blades and H1 durability timber pergolas extend over to the building limits, creating ambient reflections, dappled light and meditative spaces to all private domains such as bedrooms, bathrooms and ensuites. Programmatic separation of the living areas from the private bedroom & ensuite zones was a design brief requirement and works well. The design comfortably accomodates multiple families coming together at the same time.
The combination of ESD initiatives and planning eliminates the requirement for airconditioning, as the house creates its own breezes even on the most still days - reducing environmental impact and energy costs. The house has been oriented and further engineered to control and utilise the prevailing winds & summer breezes. Glass selection has been engineered for openness, solar performance, cyclonic conditions and cost-efficiency. The structure is an innovative combination of concrete, steel and un-conventional core-filled clay brick masonry. Hence all finishes in the project are structural finishes - in the nature of the materials. The project was delivered for the contract price, within the initial design budget and has exceeded client expectations.