A 60-year-old pepper tree takes centrestage in Alexander Symes' residential project
by Pooja Suresh HollannavarFeb 15, 2023
by STIRworldPublished on : Aug 03, 2020
Dwelling on Le Corbusier’s aphorism of a house being ‘a machine for living in’, Sydney-based CplusC Architectural Workshop has designed a building that works towards responsibly reducing the ‘exponentially increasing consumption that threatens humanity’. Conceived from a vision of creating a home, which explicitly celebrates and educates society about environmentally conscious construction, ‘Welcome to the Jungle House’ is rooted in sustainable principles. Designed for the CplusC Architectural Workshop’s director Clinton Cole and his family of four, the holistically sustainable home occupies a 90sqm site amid Victorian terraces of Darlington’s conservation area. The three-storey home is built within a restored rendered masonry, with its steel and timber heritage façade of a long unoccupied two-storey shop-top house carefully adhering to council instated heritage requirements.
The voluminous ground floor is flexible in function as it serves as a home office, a play area for the children and informal guest accommodation as well. With the growing popularity of electric cars, the architects have made provisions for a battery storage system in the garage where the electrically operated vehicles can be charged and parked. This garage and an accompanying workshop space can be accessed via a laneway located on the ground floor.
A spiral staircase has been cautiously positioned in the centre of the site that bridges the three floors, while at the same time behaves as a lightwell, taking advantage of stack ventilation strategies for thermally regulating the spaces. Cool air is directed upwards from the concrete slab and masonry wall spaces of the ground floor through to the bedroom and living quarters located above. The central stairway also ensures that the first floor circulation is minimal, with the three bedrooms, bathroom, toilet and laundry all located in close proximity to each other.
Flanked in the tightest wedge of the site is the master bedroom, equipped with an oversized timber window which pivots from hinges mounted in the centre of the frame. In addition to passively ventilating the space, the windows afford views of the neighbouring tree canopies.
Two bedrooms on the first floor are reserved for the children - accommodating bunk beds and a foldable timber door capable of isolating or connecting the spaces as and when required. Attempting to counter the social disconnect between food sources and communities in urban settings, the children’s rooms are provided with low storage-cum seating units overlooking an aquaponics fishpond. Combining conventional aquaculture with hydroponics - a system where plants are cultivated in water, a symbiotic relationship is demonstrated, designed to connect the children to their food sources.
The second floor follows an open plan layout with timber flooring and glass louver windows controlling and reflecting light onto the ceiling. Peeking above the masonry parapet, the floor captures expansive panoramic views of the city. An island bench works to separate and combine the spaces, providing an area to entertain friends and family. A large aperture promotes peaceful coexistence with nature, pulling the outdoors inwards through the fully operable glass inner skin.
The façade favours a solar panelled system, increasing renewable energy production whilst at the same time vacating space for rooftop landscaping. Offering uninterrupted views of Sydney’s skyline, the rooftop garden and planter beds nurture a community of sustainability that can be accessed by means of a fold down ladder in the outer living area. Fed from nutrient rich water pumped from the aquaponics pond, the native Australian planters self-sustain the family with fruit and vegetable while filtering bacteria in the process. Excess water is drained into a 5000l underground rainwater storage tank where it is then filtered and supplied back to the fish pond, illustrating a closed circular system.
The building has been spatially planned to allow the house to be adaptable to both the latest technological advancements as well as occupant’s lifestyle preferences. The photovoltaic panels on the northern façade are fastened using a clip system, enabling them to be serviced or changed to future models on demand, ensuring maximum efficiency. Exploiting sunlight throughout the day, the black solar powered system reinforces the sustainable building philosophy standing out against the existing heritage façade. A steel structure was chosen for the building on account of longer building lifespan and reduced maintenance. Original window openings are consistent with pre-rusted steel frames providing a striking contrast to the new gloss white steel frames punching through the masonry walls.
Name: Welcome to the Jungle House
Architect and Builder: CplusC Architectural Workshop
Project Architects: Clinton Cole, Christina Cheng
(Text by Saamia Makharia, an intern at stirworld.com)
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