Dry Hills House
This house for a couple retiring to Marlborough is situated on the outskirts of Blenheim at the foot of the Withers dryhills. The long gable and faded cedar façade is our man made attempt to integrate with this local landscape. The envelope combines the principles of rainscreen with an insulated thermal mass. The aim was to explore if we could make the whole house feel as if it was the vernadah i.e. find a way to control the climate with the envelope rather than rely on an additional shade structure. A larger more defined space, overlapping with kitchen dining and the formal living areas, is enclosed by the roof and the rainscreen wall and supports outdoor living away from the prevailing wind.the fireplaces are placed back to back.
The client wanted a bagged blockwork finish coloured to match the hills and the coloured insitu concrete floor. From this initial request we developed freestanding internal 150wide blockwork walls (an inverted brick veneer if you like). To give a more horizontal 'brick module' a 400x100x150mm concrete block was used. These solid walls, on the major longitudinal gridlines of the house also continue into the landscape to act as retaining walls. The exposed concrete blockwork, set to a 2.2m datum through out, will act as a thermal flywheel reducing the daily heat peaks and re-radiating this energy in the Marlborough nights
Structurally the roof loads are supported on the blockwork by a ply clad insulated timber frame. The exterior rainscreen ,on a simple stud frame, is supported by a horizontal wind girt to transfer the lateral wall loads to the foundation. The western red cedar rain screen filters most of the weather as the air pressure is equalised in the cavity between the block work and the timber screen. The rainscreen outer shell reduces the weather load, protects the inner layer from the UV and heat effects of strong sunlight and forms a cocoon of calmer air around the house that will also assist insulation. The sliding doors with cedar shutters are detailed to fit in the cavity between the heavy and lighter layers. The 400mm total wall thickness adds a pleasing perception of protection to the occupants
The cedar rain screen to the exterior shades the clerestory windows reducing the heat gain while still allowing a filtered high light into the interior. Hopper hung windows at the gable peaks are operated electrically to cross vent the spaces at high level.. A water based radiant floor system is run in the insulated slab to heat the house during the cooler winter months. The system is zoned to isolate different areas of use. The water based system will allow the heating source to be upgraded in the future (eg to a heat pump)
>From the outside the layered construction acts as an environmental filter and gives the house a more ethereal less solid presence in the dry landscape. 'The dwelling acts more as an instrument rather than a monument'.
Client: Meikle Family trust
Architecture: Architecture Workshop Ltd
Structural: Dunning Thornton Consultants Ltd
Builder: Bruce Idiens, Richard Jackson
Design Team: Christopher Kelly, James Fenton, Tim Hervey.