Walsh River House
A contemporary bushland house designed for a couple with young adult children that love the outdoors and entertaining. The Walsh River site is a prime location perched above the Walsh River in stunning savannah bushland.
The house is located at the summit of a hill overlooking a lake and boasts 360-degree views of the surrounding rural outlook. With access from the south, the linear orientation of the house divides the hill it is sited on. The site’s restricted access posed a number of design challenges, including environmental and bushfire overlays.
The views, orientation, topography and context generated the form and materiality of the house. Due to bushfire zoning and termites, the main structure is steel framed, with a combination of block and stones sourced from the property.
The house is three levels, with the uppermost level accommodating the master suite. A surrounding veranda allows the client to see all aspects of the property.
The site is completely off the grid – all power is generated from solar panels at ground level and water turbines from the dam. Gas is provided via storage and sewer is a septic system. Water is collected from the curved roof forms and stored in water tanks at ground level.
The Walsh River House uses a range of passive design principles, making the most of its orientation. The microclimate at Arriga differs to the Wet Tropics; here there is little rain, winds are dusty and the winters are chilling. The house, with its wide overhangs and surrounding veranda, is designed to exclude the eastern and western sun from the external walls in Summer, as well as open up to funnel cooling south easterly breezes.
Stone walls are cavity wall construction, almost 500mm thick to the west, to reduce heat entering the internal spaces. Wide overhangs to a veranda that surrounds the second floor living spaces successfully keeps the heat load of the wall’s surface.
Photography: Andrew Watson