Holloway Beach House 2
The house is situated on a typical beach subdivision north of Cairns as one of a pair of ‘gatehouses’ at the front of each property that control the entries to their gardens beyond. Hugging the arc of the street frontage the houses inflect towards each other to create a sense of openness and individuality in counterpoint to a central rain tree in the street. By contrast with the limited open spaces of the neighbouring suburbia, both houses are compactly arranged on two floors to maximise the landscape potential of each house. However, a fundamental asymmetry arose out of the differing requirements from the different owners of each house which posed a challenge in balancing the apparent visual inequality on each side of the street.
The house is arranged with split levels around two service towers formed from the bathrooms, kitchen and laundry that are separated by a rooflit staircase. The two towers are disposed symmetrically within the steeply gabled form of the house and lend a monumental scale to the living space. A wide variety of spaces of different widths and heights relating to different activities are clustered in front of and behind the staircase eliminating the need for corridors. Each space is given a separate identity by the way it is entered off of the staircase and a different quality of natural light.
Foil-backed plasterboard internal sheeting and external corrugated steel sheeting at optimum separation create convection plenums that are continuous throughout the walls and roof. The resultant build-up of heat within the cavities escapes through the walls and roof by means of an open ridge-capping. By contrast with its neighbour (Beach House 1) this more substantial house affords a steeper pitch to the roof which not only allows hot air to escape more efficiently but also casts one side of the gable into shade for considerable periods of time. This eliminates the need for insulation and allows the buildings to cool quickly in the evening. Furthermore, zincalume mini-orb external sheeting improves thermal performance and provides a low-maintenance skin requiring little attention.
To catch the breezes and to avoid periodic flooding the house is raised with window openings infilled with adjustable aluminium louvres. Areas of glass are kept to a minimum and only employed when set within deep reveals to avoid glare and heat gain. This not only gives the impression of there being no glass in the building at all but also allows the glass to be properly folded away rendering the spaces within the house as virtually external, even in heavy rain.
The irregular structural arrangement of posts and beams which form the primary structure was designed to accommodate the many changes in level and plan and sized to allow some members to be hidden within the framing of the internal wall construction. The prefabrication of these members helped to minimise the work undertaken under the harsh sun and allowed the early completion of the roof for shade during construction.
In summary, this pair of houses are ‘primitive huts’ suitable for the 21st Century. In reality, however, even primitive huts, for all their simplicity, still need to have kitchens, bathrooms and all the other conveniences of the day.