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Architecture: Balonne River House

March 14, 2012

Fulton Trotter Architects design a green, self-sufficient residence suited to the south-west Queensland climate.

The Balonne River House is a five bedroom home situated on a long, narrow five acre block fronting the Balonne River, just off the main highway leading into the town of St George in Queensland. The clients have a long standing connection to Fulton Trotter Architects, with their father’s house also designed by the firm in the 1980s. The Balonne River House was conceived from the desire to create ‘something different’ in the local context.

The house is sited high on the rural block, ensuring the design captures the perfect northern orientation, cool summer breezes, fantastic panoramic river views – while also avoiding recent flood levels. The home focuses on notions of passive design, simplicity, and self-sufficiency.

The building form is inspired by the desire to create separate master, living and bedroom wings, whilst ensuring focus on the above principals is maintained. This was achieved through the single room depth of each wing, large cantilevering roofs (constructed from insulated composite roof panels), an outdoor living space, and extensive use of glazing to the north. Furthermore, breezeways clad in polycarbonate sheeting create an interesting transitional link between each wing. The striking red insitu concrete walls to the east and west anchor the delicate and lightweight elements of the wings: the textured formwork mimics the red soil of the region, while the solidity of the walls provides vital thermal massing qualities. Internally, the spaces are flexible and modern. Polished concrete floors and polished hardwood floors contrast against the crisp white walls, while a curved three tonne polished concrete benchtop in the kitchen creates a central heart, linking all three wings and acting as a gathering space within the centre of the home.

Due to the home’s rural locality, it was a requirement that the home be self-sufficient – harvesting all of its own water and processing waste. This is made possible by four 20,000ltr rainwater tanks complete with filter system, and its own on-site waste water treatment system which reticulates into the property’s garden.

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