Cranky Corner doesn't sound like a very peaceful place to retire, but thanks to Bourne Blue Architecture this modest farmhouse situated within farmland in the Hunter Valley of New South Wales, Australia is the perfect place for a retiring couple.
Cranky Corner House
Cranky Corner House was designed for a couple nearing retirement. It is situated within a rural area in the Hunter Valley of NSW, Australia. Summers are hot and dry, winters cool, often windy and wet. The building is modest in scale and presents a minimal frontage to the road. It has been finely crafted with timber being the dominant construction material. A slab is used for thermal mass, to moderate temperatures through the seasons.
Prospect and Refuge
Jay Appleton's theory of prospect and refuge was central to the siting of this home. Concealing a building partially within a stand of Eucalypts, at the lower part of the ridge positions the inhabitants at the edge of the forest, with a view over the valley. The building is screened from the road and has minimal visual impact -- there is prospect and refuge. This makes the home feel comfortable and protected.
Low and Long
Striking a low, sharp horizontal line with the building was an important approach as this contrasts with the organic branch structure of the trees above. The building seems to straddle the ridge and the living space cantilevers towards the main North view. The building height is kept well below the canopy level, which forms it’s own space, as an outer shell to the building.
The building is divided into two forms; a taller, timber pavilion for the living spaces and inhabitants' rooms and a lower masonry one for guests, services and garage. Materials are mainly galvanized steel cladding and clear finished timber, in keeping with the context of nearby farm buildings.
Energy use is minimized by a ground source heat pump used to with hydronic coils in the slab for heating, as well as pre-heating for domestic hot water. Piping is laid in a 1.5 meter deep x 100 meter long trench, and water reticulated, using the stable temperature of the ground to preheat the water. LED and fluorescent lighting is used extensively, the building is highly insulated and most materials generally have low embodied energy. Rainwater is collected and stored. All wastewater is treated onsite.
Because of the clients' age a single level design was important. The building is close to the ground so grandchildren can run in and out and the deck stairs form a natural amphitheater for performances. There are multiple options for opening the house up to the outside, with protected areas to sit outside.
The structural engineer was the principal external collaborator with this project, with early discussions revolving around a cantilevering concrete platform and then wholly timber primary and secondary structure above. The layout became an ordered grid to minimize cost of construction. This then informed the glazing placement and detail and provided a framework for the treatment of shading and eave linings.