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Location: Alphington, Victoria, Australia
Builder: Byde Constructions Pty Ltd.
Engineer: Meyer Consulting
Building Surveyor: Michel Group Building Surveyors
From the Architect: “Embedded into the landscape, Ha Ha Haus is located in a leafy pocket of Alphington (Wurundjeri Country) where front fences are a refreshingly rare sight.
“Our client’s design brief was loose in that they were open to any ‘blue sky’ ideas, as long as the design met the core function of a close knit family home that could accommodate frequent visitors from overseas, intergenerational living, and prolonged periods of vacancy while the clients are traveling.
“This resulted in a single-story design that not only addresses the need for the long-term notion of aging-in-place but one that sensitively responds to the sloping site and the immediate adjoining context. The floor plan itself can best be described as a donut surrounding and enveloping a central landscaped courtyard. This design element is a direct response to fundamental passive solar principles of maximizing opportunities of cross ventilation and north facing glazing. In addition to the sustainability and comfort factors, this internalized outdoor space is place of refuge, blocking out views from neighboring homes.
“From the footpath, the project aims to give back to the streetscape and public realm into which it is sleeved and embedded. Hence, the namesake, a landscaped mound conceals not only the necessary visual bulk of a low lying house, but a 20,000-liter rainwater harvesting tank, which with the advice of our repeat landscape collaborators, Mud Office, serves to provide recycled water for irrigation and bathrooms ten times that which is required by local building regulations.
“Set in and around this mound is a charred blackbutt timber-clad veil, which in a way generates its own horizon line and acts as a heat trap. This native Australian timber cladding, like the other building materials, extends from outside into the internal parts of the home. The palette intentionally paired back to three main finishes which were locally sourced to limit embodied carbon emissions, and selected for richness, robustness, longevity, and low maintenance characteristics.”