The Lookout House on Pirates Bay 2024

House Notes – The Lookout House on Pirates Bay

Clients come to Uta Green, from Green Design Architects, for her speciality in sustainable buildings and bushfire resilience. Building to a high BAL standard is often essential for the Tasmanian areas she works in, as was the case with Eaglehawk Nest.

Eaglehawk Nest is a small home built in 2021, for a couple living on the Tasman Peninsula, not far from Port Arthur. The narrow, steep block, the vegetation and the wastewater treatment system forced the location of the house to the middle of the hill, which made access difficult, but the resulting view across the Bay is stunning. Uta says the slight curve of the Eastern façade, out to the view, “is offering a hugging gesture to the bay”.

There is a biodiversity overlay in many places in Tasmania and interests can conflict, where the bushfire expert requires some of the vegetation removed but there is a biodiversity overlay protecting it. Uta says, “trying to decide which trees can be kept is a combination of aesthetics, conservation and fire hazard. A weighing up of the different values”.

Green Design Architects encourages urban infill over green-field sites, as it can be great loss for clients to lose the natural setting – aesthetically and more importantly, in terms of losing natural values.

At Eaglehawk Nest the clients reluctantly had to remove trees and vegetation, but as a silver lining, this allowed better solar access for the house. With more extensive land clearing, the site may have been reduced below BAL-19, but Green Design and the client opted to keep as many trees as possible, including two mature gums. Uta says, “The mature white gums are important to frame the view and retain natural amenity of the site, as well as offering foraging ground to local threatened species”.

Interestingly, new buildings can no longer be built in Tasmania in areas with a BAL rating over 29. Uta says “It is near impossible to obtain a Tasmanian Fire Service approval to build to BAL-40″. While Eaglehawk Nest is rated BAL-29, it has been built to a higher standard.

Eaglehawk Nest has a simple plan and roof form with a modest footprint of 82sqm. Uta said “we reduced the overall embodied energy and heating demand of the building by rationalising the footprint to the smallest comfortable size”.
The house is a lightweight timber construction, with materials of low embodied energy throughout.

Uta also likes to use local or recycled building materials as much as possible, but says it is difficult to obtain them in Tasmania. Eaglehawk Nest uses recycled convict brick, plantation Silvertop Ash, steel, cement sheeting and some recycled Tasmanian Oak. The stone walls and landscaping use rocks from the site.

All rooms face the bay, and because the generous glazing faces East, overheating in the Tasmanian climate is unlikely. Thermally broken aluminum framed doors and windows with ember mesh have been installed for heightened energy efficiency and bushfire resilience, to BAL-40.

The waste-water system includes trenches located just below the deck, downhill from the building. This absorption area sensibly wets the downslope area of greatest bushfire risk. A 30,000 litre water tank is also installed for all building needs.

When designing homes, Green Designs likes to consider the future needs of the building. The bushfire resilience is one aspect, but so too is bracing and tie downs, to withstand higher winds, and bigger gutters to cope with higher downpours.

Sustainability Features

Years Open
2024
ENERGY AND WATER EFFICIENT FEATURES
    • Energy efficiency:
    • Draught proofing
      Efficient lighting
      Efficient appliances
    • Passive heating cooling:
    • Cross ventilation
      Passive solar designed home
    • Active heating cooling:
    • Fireplace - rarely required
    • Water heating:
    • Solar hot water (flat panel)
    • Water harvesting and saving features:
    • Rainwater storage - Above ground
      Stormwater management
      Low flow shower heads
    • Above ground rainwater storage Type:
    • Non-combustible water tanks above ground
    • Above ground rainwater storage Size
    • 30,000L
    • Energy Efficient Lighting
    • LED lights throughout
      Natural daylight
    • Window Protection:
    • Automation/controls
      Eaves
      Shutters
SUSTAINABLE & RECYCLED MATERIALS
    • Sustainable materials:
    • Green Design Architects like to use local or recycled building materials as much as possible, but say it is difficult to obtain them in Tasmania. Eaglehawk Nest uses recycled convict brick, plantation Silvertop Ash, steel, cement sheeting and some recycled Tasmanian Oak. The stone walls and landscaping use rocks from the site.
    • Recycled and reused materials:
    • Bricks
      Concrete
      Paving
      Rocks/stone
      Timber
INSULATION SPECIFICATIONS
    • Insulation Type:
    • Under-roof
      External walls
      Floor
RENEWABLE ENERGY SPECIFICATIONS
    • All-Electric Home?
    • Yes
    • Renewable energy
    • Solar ready, but not installed
COSTS AND COST SAVINGS
    • Total cost of home when constructed:
    • $500,000 in 2021
    • Estimate of annual savings:
    • $
HOUSE DESIGN SPECIFICATIONS
    • House Size
    • 86sqm2
    • BAL Rating
    • BAL – 29: Increasing levels of ember attack and ignition of debris with a heat flux of up to 29kW/m2
    • Roof
    • Metal (Colorbond)
    • Wall Materials
    • Stone
      Timber
    • Window and Door Types
    • Double glazing
    • Number of bedrooms
    • 1
    • Number of bathrooms
    • 1
GARDEN AND WASTE REDUCTION
    • Garden / Outdoors
    • Local indigenous plants
      Native plants
      Water wise plants
HEALTHY HOME FEATURES
    • Healthy home features
    • Carpet free - tiles/concrete/timber flooring throughout
      Cross flow ventilation
      Natural light and ventilation
Location
Eaglehawk Neck TAS 7179
    • Housing Type:
    • Standalone House
    • Project Type:
    • New Build
    • Builder
    • South East Building - Tasmania
    • Designer
    • Green Design Architects

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