Croft House

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  • 2016

  • Architectural
    Commercial and Residential

Designed By:

  • James Stockwell Architect

Commissioned By:

Glenn and Kate Morris

Designed In:

Australia

The Croft house is a small holiday house that clings to the wind swept South Coast of Victoria Australia. It uses the harmonic sine curve geometry to form a protective shape that is in turn sculpted for views, so at once protective, shield like and open and embracing.


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  • CHALLENGE
  • SOLUTION
  • IMPACT
  • MORE
  • The form is experienced internally and externally as a single sculptural shape. The house distorts mathematical and structural sine curves to a particular shape to achieve the interior function and shelter so form and function become one. The form puts its 'collar up to the wind' The small material pallet of grey zinc corrugated metal (the language of the rural context) and concrete, blend with the muted shale geology. It is constructed of local compressed sand walls and the entire structure and finishes are of local timber (both 0.5MJ/KG). It illustrates the suitability of local low embodied energy materials in contemporary architecture and that architecture, to be able to tell a story of it's place.

  • The house emerges from the landscape and permits the occupant to see out by tapering walls and 'cut outs' enabling direct and peripheral vision. The curve makes the functional activities in the house coexist around an edge of changing perspective. The owners request was for 'full outlook to and shelter from the coastal vistas in all directions and to be part of the landscape'. The owners use the house themselves and for local and international guests. The podium makes a clean break to the working farm paddock without fences or intermediate landscape so farm animals and wild life come up close to the house. The curve shell form is 'alive' and carries the eye to the undulating lines in the landscape beyond.

  • The Croft house is BCA compliant. Aspects of the design considering safety and usability 1. The podium offers a low sitting edge and barrier for unwanted snakes and termites 2. All glass is toughened 3. Surfaces are non slip to Australian Standards 4. The window ventilation system enables small or large ventilation openings and is securable with small apertures. 5. All building systems operate from a central control point and all lighting is operable from several key locations reducing operation time. 6. All waste is treated in an on site low toxin worm farm. 7. All water is filtered rain water sourced on site 8. Power is neutral by credit from a 5Kw solar system on the adjacent garage building

  • The project won the Victorian Alan and Beth Coldicutt Sustainability Award. It's ambitions are to illustrate the suitability of low embodied energy local materials in contemporary architecture. The project is of compressed sand walls (0.5MJ/KG) and the entire structure and finishes are of local timber. Running costs are minimized by double glazing, thermal mass and passive solar design. Insulated thermal mass and good cross ventilation avoids air conditioning and achieves high internal temperatures in winter - no active heating is used! says the owner. The concrete floor catches significant direct sun in winter trapping heat. Robust finishes mean little or no maintenance and running costs are very low.

    Probably the best testimony to the workmanship is David Martin Builder's winning of the National Builder of the year for this project for the quality of the build. The timber joinery of glue laminated beams is exceptional. Cost per sqm was $4500. This was achieved by both roof surfaces being 2 dimensional planes constructed from conventional battens and rafters and corrugated metal so the form can be practically achieved with conventional local building practices. Softwood scissor trusses were erected in 2 days on in plan arch ring beams of laminated timber.

    The project has brought welcome national and international recognition to the desirable holiday aspects/virtues of this town and area of the Victorian Coast. The house itself has a value akin to it's coastal location and has appreciated in value exponentially as a consequence of the design and quality of the building. The design is resolved to 'hold value' by the choices of materials. Externally Rheinzinc is chosen as a 'noble' metal which will last several hundred years. The material palet requires little maintenance and will age well. The project publicity has brought attention to Australian design.

    The walls use local beach sand compressed in shutters. The form of the house distorts mathematical and structural sine curves. The sine curve is the curve of sound waves and ocean waves and has the inherent harmonic. Laminated timber beams form the sine curve of the building courtyard, the natural curve of material ductility. The protective exterior is warmed internally by the compressed sand thermal mass walls as a fragment of distant sand dunes. The economy and resolution of the form for its purpose is designed for highest efficiency. The form while appearing protective has the reverse sensation internally where it expands out and the tapered walls permit peripheral vision.