Living In Iconic Houses

Today I attended the second talk in a series prepared by Karen McCartney, guest curator of the Iconic Australian Houses Exhibition at Customs House, Sydney.

The discussion surrounded Living In Iconic Houses, where several panel guests reflected upon their time living in ‘Iconic Australian Homes’. Karen McCartney, currently living in Bruce Rickard’s Marshall House, Dr Bill Lyons, the commissioning client and current owner of Robin Boyd’s Lyons House, Sydney, and Neil Buhrich who grew up in numerous iconic homes designed and built by his late father, Hugh Buhrich.

Below: Marshall House, Bruce Rickard

Marshall House, architect Bruce Rickard. cropped. Photograph (c) Micheal Wee

For McCartney, it seemed as though the building had chosen her, as much as her choosing the house. Self-designated custodian to the house, she has meticulously preserved the dwelling. She has carefully considered the architectural design and complimented it with her own style and personality.

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See the kitchen below. McCartney reflected that when small spaces are well and efficiently designed, they can continue to meet one’s needs.

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Below: Lyons House, Robin Boydlyons 2

Dr Bill Lyons touched on the significance of the architect-client relationship. Something I feel quite passionate about is the importance not only of a good understanding between architect and client, but shared ideals, be they an aesthetic, or a design approach (eg sustainability). Lyons

Lyons also praised the design for withstanding his fluctuating life situations: the design enduring changing married, family and single life.lyons 4 Lyons continues to live in the house since he commissioned it in the late 60’s.lyons 5

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Below: Buhrich House, Sydney

buhrich 3Son of Hugh Buhrich, Neil was raised in a house that was under a constant state of construction for most of his time there. He later moved into this house, designed and built by his father for himself and his wife, (Neil’s mother).Buhrich_House_6

Neil Buhrich shared childhood anecdotes of climbing precarious winder stairs, no balustrade, above vast drops below. He showed great pride and affection for the beautiful house, similar to McCartney and the Marshall house, who saw herself as custodian of the dwelling.

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In audience discussion time, (led by Fenella Kernebone), proud owners and previous inhabitants of architect-designed homes reflected upon the happiness that their dwelling provided. It was so refreshing to hear non-architects discuss the nourishment that architecture can provide, from formative years as a child, to raising a family in such inspirational spaces.

Houses should not be oversized expressions of one’s wealth and stability. They should be warm, nourishing dwellings that contribute to the inhabitant’s general life.

Functional, efficient, relevant, beautiful and above all inspirational. Architecture in collaboration with its inhabitant.

Sydney Seeing Green

How exciting it is to see all the greenery popping up all over Sydney, as more and more architects and designers incorporate vegetation into their designs.031cheapsyd03

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Above: Paddington Reservoir, Tonkin Zulaikha Greer Architects

Decisions in the construction industry have a longstanding impact on the wider street-scape and city, so it important that we direct the built environment towards a sustainably conscious, responsible direction.

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Above: Prince Alfred Pool, Central, Neeson Murcutt Architects

Within the urban environment, the vegetation not only looks beautiful but provides many  benefits including: insulation (soil is a fantastic insulator), offsetting the urban heat island effect (the high thermal mass of the city absorbs heat), reduced rain water run off, increased biodiversity, fresh air!

There are also some great initiatives pushing for city farms which would reduce food mileage and encourage city dwellers outside!

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Above: Trio Apartments, Camperdown, in collaboration with French Botanist Patrick Blanc

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Above: Central Park by Jean Nouvel in collaboration with French Botanist Patrick Blanc

More links and further reading:

A great article by Broadsheet Sydney on Sydney’s Green Revolution

Sydney 202020 Vision

City of Sydney Green Roofs and Walls in Sydney

City of Sydney City Farm

Sydney City Farm Community

Straw House

Project Straw House by Californian Architects Rael San Fratello 2010

All Images are from their website.

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Straw House consists of three glass compartments: sleeping, eating/lounging, bathing.

These compartments are nestled amongst an insulative skin of stacked straw bales.

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Amid the volume of straw come small passages between the three compartments.

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Like a tactile maze, a contrast between the sleek, coldness of glass and the warm, earthiness of straw.

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RSF Architects do some interesting, experimental work. Aiming to constantly redefine themselves, they see building as the privilege to build a full scale study model. – A delightful, thoughtful approach to architecture and construction.

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A constant experimentation and exploration. No fear to remain naive, to recognise one’s blindness with a willingness to learn.entrance2broken_bales

Read on for a great extract from their ‘about’ page on their website. I’d love to collaborate with architects of such humble, personable background:

We are a studio that disrupts the conventions of architecture by tackling topics not typically of interest to architects. We start galleries in the middle of nowhere. We talk to homeless people. We stack straw bales. We play in the mud. We start corporations. We imagine a better border. We question green. We love fluorescents and brown. We write. We educate. We learn. We often lose, but it doesn’t stop us from trying. We believe that the turtle wins the race. We believe old things can be new again. We hope that the new things we make will someday be old. Another company’s trash is sometimes our treasure. We believe there is nothing wrong with making money. We do free work (and lots of it). We print buildings. We love dust. We believe that when there is architecture there should also be food. We believe salt has a place in architecture. We are obsessed by materials. We try to proceed and be bold. We think that, when it comes to architecture, there is nothing wrong with lying and accentuating. We love making in California and we love Oakland. We have future-forward aspirations. We have rural gesticulations and intonations. We know you’ve never heard of our favorite architects. We know you’ve probably never heard of us. We are willing to deny any of this if it isn’t any fun.

Rael San Fratello is Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello

http://www.rael-sanfratello.com/

Timber Post

The tallest timber apartment building in the world located in Melbourne, Australia. Lend Lease have designed and built Forte, a 10-storey apartment building using Cross Laminated Timber.

http-::www.heraldsun.com.au:leader:central:lend-lease-to-launch-10-storey-timber-apartment-building-with-festival-in-docklands-next-week:story-fngnvlpt-1226577970224

[Figure 1]

So why a timber building?

Cross Laminated Timber (CLT) is a prefabricated timber product in which layers of timber are laminated in ‘criss-cross’ directions into solid panels. Structurally, these panels perform comparably to engineered solutions such as steel and reinforced concrete, but while steel and concrete are carbon intensive to manufacture, timber actually stores carbon.

http-::designbuildsource.com.au:cross-laminated-timber-passes-fire-tests

[Figure 2]

The lightweight timber structure has reduced foundation requirements than traditional reinforced concrete buildings (less materials, less digging) and is manufactured in a controlled factory environment providing for high quality control and opportunities for prefabrication and faster on-site assembly.

www.crosslaminatedtimber.com

[Figure 3]

See http://www.crosslaminatedtimber.com.au/ for more details

Sustainability & the building:

Forte houses 23 residential apartments as well as ground floor retail.

http-::sourceable.net:forte-worlds-tallest-timber-apartment-building:_2

[Figure 4]

Each apartment has been designed to optimise passive solar gain and natural ventilation, a healthier and sustainable solution that relies less on mechanical heating and cooling. Chemical emissions from paints, carpets, joinery and wood products were also reduced.

http-::sourceable.net:forte-worlds-tallest-timber-apartment-building:

[Figure 5]

We love the addition of vegetable gardens on the balconies and the nearby Victoria Harbour community garden. Not only do these reduce the embodied energy required to transport our food from its source to our plate, but they build and nurture local community spirit.

http-::sourceable.net:forte-worlds-tallest-timber-apartment-building:_3

Visit the building’s website for more details on sustainable initiatives:

http://www.forteliving.com.au/

Sources:

Figure 1: http://sourceable.net/forte-worlds-tallest-timber-apartment-building/
Figure 2: http://designbuildsource.com.au/cross-laminated-timber-passes-fire-tests
Figure 3: http://www.crosslaminatedtimber.com.au/
Figure 4-6: http://sourceable.net/forte-worlds-tallest-timber-apartment-building/

http://www.smh.com.au/business/lend-lease-going-up-in-timber-20120525-1zab9.html

http://www.bpn.com.au/features/knock-on-wood-australian-developers-bet-on-buildin

The Ethics of Almost

Stumbled across this lovely post on the Milkwood Permaculture website.
It’s a lovely reflection on ethical consumption and the way that doing SOMETHING is better than NOTHING. Sure, there are a few heroes that devote their lives entirely to producing or exchanging for all their needs. But for others, there will be times when there just isn’t enough time in the day or who just don’t live on large blocks of land that allow us to do so.
Pick your battles, and be satisfied that you are doing your best.