DesignWall

The (W)right House

March 24, 2009

It was developed as an investment for the client – the Wright family. The conceptual framework emerged in the form of helicoidal minimal surface geometry – like that of the Wright brother’s first kite flyer, airfoils and even in the tail of a breaching southern right whale. We found the (W)right proportion in the golden […]

It was developed as an investment for the client – the Wright family. The conceptual framework emerged in the form of helicoidal minimal surface geometry – like that of the Wright brother’s first kite flyer, airfoils and even in the tail of a breaching southern right whale. We found the (W)right proportion in the golden section and used the Fibonacci spiral dissection as a form of fractal design generator. The intention was to create an extraordinary landmark that doesn’t look like anything identifiable – a strange attractor or enigmatic signifier.
The project attempts a democratic poetry as a result of conflicting forces and contradictions, producing bizarre results. The helicoidal twist was a generator for roof forms in conjunction with maximum and minimum prescribed roof pitches under the building covenants for the development. The maximum allowable plot ratio for the site resulted in an area approximating a Fibonacci dissection of a golden rectangle, sized in accordance with mandatory boundary offsets. There was serendipity in the outcomes that could not be ignored.
We wanted to create a very cool house, and ESD initiatives were critical design generators in conjunction with other conceptual concerns. The whole house works as an aperture for the venturi effect, accounting for acceleration of air movement through a constricted opening, demonstrated in both plan and section.
The entire building opens onto reflection ponds and pools allowing for evaporative cooling. It has also been oriented and further engineered to utilise and control the prevailing winds and summer breezes. The combination of ESD initiatives and planning reduces the requirement for air conditioning, as air is pulled through the house by thermal chimneys with mechanically operated vents at high level forming feature clerestory voids. The house creates its own breezes on the stillest day.
The structure is an innovative combination of concrete, steel and unconventional core-filled clay brick masonry. Hence all finishes in the project are structural finishes – in the nature of the materials. The result is a striking building which has an undeniable public presence, visible from the main road into Port Douglas. The project acts as a counterpoint to the neighbouring ‘Queenslanders’ and suggests an alternative.
This project set up a framework for investigations into progressive tropical architecture in a contemporary context. The work of my practice is preoccupied with possibilities available and achievable in the tropics. The idea of an outdoor room takes on a whole new meaning here. In conjunction with cyclonic impacts on design strategies and isolated position, there are restraints and contingencies that can be celebrated and transformed into new directions for contemporary architecture.

Leave a Reply

x
Sign up to Australian Design Review's Newsletter

Receive the latest:

  • news, insights, opinions from the interior design and architecture community
  • coverage on latest projects, videos and new products updates
  • events and job listings.

Sign up now!
X

Sign up to the newsletter