Elemental House 2020

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High Camp VIC 3764
    • Housing Type:
    • Standalone House
    • Project Type:
    • New Build
    • Builder
    • Keenan Built
    • Designer
    • Ben Callery Architects

About Elemental House

Elemental House fulfilled the wish of a semi-retired couple for a simpler, more economical existence in rural Victoria. They fell in love with the panoramic views from the windswept hilltop site, 90 minutes from Melbourne.

The site which is on the traditional lands of the Taungurung people came with challenging conditions which had a deep influence on, not only the design of the house but its core identity. The central ethos of Elemental House was to do more with less, and to consume less materials, water and energy within a very compact footprint.

According to architect Ben Callery, the brief for an off-grid home questioned the need for many modern conveniences such as dishwasher, washing machine, dryer and even a television, but did not sacrifice some little luxuries – “namely, the comfort of a freestanding bath with a view for miles over rolling hills without another soul in sight.”

The architectural elements of geometry, light and dark enhance the interaction with the landscape of the 42-hectare former sheep property.
The form of the simple 10-square one-bedroom home, with its oversized canopy, abstracts the requirements of shelter. Internally, darkness emphasises the unique brightness of the Australian outback from which refuge is sought.

Built of spotted gum, a bushfire resistant timber, this passive solar design means deep eaves provide shade from the sun in summer while still capturing the winter sun, and a burnished concrete floor provides thermal mass. Heating is provided through a Stovax freestanding woodfire and a 5 kW split system air-conditioner in the bulkhead over the fire. The bulkhead also contains a simple in-line fan used as a “heat-shifter”. It takes hot or cool air from the living room into the bedroom behind. Openable windows are positioned to facilitate cross-ventilation, creating natural cooling, and the size of the glazing is designed to withstand the forceful gusts of wind on the ridge.
Photos: Jack Lovel and Dave Kulesza
Video: Anthony Richardson, www.simpledwelling.net; www.thedesignemotive.com

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Years Open
    • Energy efficiency:
    • Draught proofing
      Efficient lighting
      Efficient appliances
    • Passive heating cooling:
    • Cross ventilation
    • Active heating cooling:
    • Ceiling fans
      Split system airconditioner
    • Water heating:
    • Hot water heat pump
    • Water harvesting and saving features:
    • Rainwater storage - Above ground
      Low flow shower heads
    • Above ground rainwater storage Type:
    • Tank
    • Above ground rainwater storage Size
    • 20,000 litres (household) 10,000 litres (mandatory fire tank)
    • Energy Efficient Lighting
    • LED lights throughout
      Natural daylight
    • Window Protection:
    • Honeycomb blinds
    • Sustainable materials:
    • External walls are clad with spotted gum sourced through Australian Forestry Standards Chain of Custody. All windows are double-glazed argon filled low E-glass to meet the BAL-29 bushfire requirements and wind loads of the site.
    • Insulation Type:
    • Ceiling
      Internal walls
    • Ceiling Type:
    • Bulk – glass wool
    • Ceiling Rating:
    • R 5.0
    • Internal Walls Insulation Type:
    • Bulk – glass wool
    • Internal Walls Insulation Rating:
    • R-2.5 batts with an extra layer of 20 mm R0.5 foil board.
    • All-Electric Home?
    • Yes
    • Renewable energy used:
    • Energy storage/battery
      Solar PV off-grid
    • Size of PV system:
    • 6480
    • Total cost of home when constructed:
    • $460,000
    • Cost estimate of sustainable home/features:
    • $35,000
    • Estimate of annual savings:
    • $1100
    • House Size
    • 100 sq metres
    • BAL Rating
    • BAL – 29: Increasing levels of ember attack and ignition of debris with a heat flux of up to 29kW/m2
    • Roof
    • Insulated panel (sandwich panels)
      Metal (Colorbond)
    • Wall Materials
    • Timber

    • Wall Materials
    • Oriented strandboard painted black, plasterboard
    • Window and Door Types
    • Double glazing
      Low-e, films
      Sliding windows/doors
    • Universal design accessability
    • Universal access
    • Universal Design Features
    • 80cm minimum door opening width
      Minimum 110cm wide hallways
    • Number of bedrooms
    • 1
    • Number of bathrooms
    • 1
    • Garden / Outdoors
    • Composting
      Edible garden
      Local indigenous plants
      Native plants
      Water wise plants
      Worm farm
    • Waste Reduction Practices:
    • Compost all food scraps
      Take own containers to the supermarket and for take away food
    • Healthy home features
    • Carpet free - tiles/concrete/timber flooring throughout
      Cross flow ventilation
      Indoor plants for air filtration
      Low VOC paints/sealer/varnish
      Natural fibre furnishings
      Natural light and ventilation
      Natural oil sealer/finishes

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