Atherton Tablelands House
The house sits on the brow of a field among pastureland and is positioned to act as a foil to the existing farm sheds and water tanks. It’s diagonal placement visually detaches the new pavilion from the adjacent outhouses, creates a sheltered courtyard and opens up the living space to the pastoral panorama on twp sides. To meet the rigorous demands of an extremely limited budget the planning and construction of the house employed tight planning and pre-fabrication strategies to limit the amount and duration of construction. Therefore, in spite of the available land, the size and form of the house were determined to a large degree by what was affordable.
The 9- by 9-metre square plan with mezzanine deck over the living area provides maximum internal volume and planning freedom for minimum wall and floor coverage. This also creates the deepest plan, and thereby maximum shade, for a given number of roof sheets, which is an important consideration in the climatic context of the tropical far north of Australia. To facilitate construction, as many building elements as possible were standardised and pre-fabricated, including the steel structure with standard staircase details, steel infill wall framing, glazing and joinery. An all-weather plywood floor that could be put down quickly provided a construction platform, after which it was left exposed, sanded and sealed. As a result the construction period was precisely 12 weeks, minimising the builders’ exposure to the harsh Far North Queensland sun.
It is no coincidence that an apparent visual similarity with the traditional Queenslander house typology exists. The design of the house is a response from first principles to the ongoing climatic and economic challenges that have always characterised Queensland’s domestic architecture.