- Article by Rob Hay
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While Australia will never be regarded internationally as a winter wonderland, for those looking to escape the city for a weekend, the Snowy Mountains and Victorian Alps do provide an appealing alternative to our world-famous beaches.
In pursuit of peace and quiet, it’s hard to beat the serenity of snow falling on an already quiet landscape – particularly if you’re suitably housed in a bespoke alpine abode. Here are three examples of fine Australian alpine architecture that embrace modern design principles while remaining sympathetic to the landscape.
Under the Moonlight
When designing Under the Moonlight, Italian architect Giovanni D’Ambrosio says his intention was to treat interior and exterior space the same. The result is a house that presents a number of contradictions. Heavy stone walls and warm timber create a sense of sanctuary, while steel and glass open the home up to the outdoors. The building is modern in its approach, yet timeless in its aesthetic. And, while striking when viewed in the comfort the surrounding architecture, it is perfectly at home in the landscape.
That the property fits so effortlessly into its Victorian Alps location is a testament to the sympathy D’Ambrosio has shown to both the environment and history of the region. Local stone used in the walls, floor, fireplace and staircase anchor the building to the site, while the house’s shape echoes the type of buildings early settlers to the region inhabited.
The interior is spread over two levels, with the main living areas located on the ground floor and two bedrooms located upstairs. The master bedroom features an ensuite with spa.
Implicit in the experience of ‘getting away from it’ is the need to be self-sufficient. And this is a major consideration in the design of FMSA Architecture’s off-the-grid Alpine Residence.
Situated on the isolated Redbank Plain in Victoria’s High Country, this 210-metre square family holiday home uses smart design to minimise energy consumption and reduce the need for maintenance. Passive solar principles maximise natural heating, while solar panels further utilise the sun’s energy to power the home. Cleverly, these solar panels are used to create eaves to prevent snow falling on the north-facing balcony. If additional power is required, the home has an LPG generator. Completing the self-sufficiency mix, an onsite sewage purification system has been installed.
Inside, a spacious open-plan interior creates a convivial atmosphere, while floor-to-ceiling windows open to the expansive landscape.
The exterior use of galvanised iron and weather-worn hardwood, characteristic of the early mountain huts of the region, anchor the home and give it timeless appeal.
Snowy Mountains house
Refuge is central to the appeal of alpine architecture. In an often extreme environment, a well-built structure offers feelings of safety as well as shelter from the elements. With this in mind, few buildings provide the sort of peace-of-mind this James Stockwell-designed building on Kalkite Mountain offers.
The distinctive design of the Snowy Mountains house is a response to the extreme weather that characterises the site. The corrugated iron roof is formed into a curve, which is anchored to a concrete plinth. The result is a structure that allows wind to pass above with minimal obstruction while also effectively shedding snow loads.
Inside, the curved ceiling and warm timber finishes give a cocoon-like feel to the building, while large windows offer views to both the Snowy River Valley and Thredbo Valley.
See more great Australian architecture here.