The hero of this house is a king post truss that opens the living rooms up to northern sun, making a tranquil inner-city retreat with low embodied and operational energy.
The owners, a couple who are engineers/project managers wanted a house that would be resource efficient in construction and energy efficient in operation - values that align with ours. They wanted their home to be a place of relaxation and refuge from busy working lives and the nearby bustling High Street. They wanted a naturally comfortable space that engages with the elements; warming winter sun, cooling summer breezes and the deciduous tree in their west-facing backyard.
We responded to their brief with the goal of using natural materials that are sustainable in manufacture while creating a calm but energising aesthetic. The L-shaped Kitchen/Meals/Living room opens onto a north-west facing deck. The truss, spanning 7.3m across the width of the house, allows perpendicular sliding doors to open. This brings natural light streaming into the living rooms providing passive heating and connecting all four zones without the hinderance of a structural post.
The pitched roof speaks to that of the original heritage part of the house, while being designed to contemporary motives. It is rotated 90 degrees to the original and uses a cathedral ceiling to provide a sense of volume and space greater than the modest footprint. The triangular windows to the east and west express this pitch while bringing in morning and afternoon light. Highlight windows on the north side provide more warming winter sun over the neighbouring rooftop. An openable southern skylight over the kitchen provides cross ventilation.
Over the meals, the pitched roof is halved into a skillion. The shading slats over the pergola are cut on an angle to let in the lower winter sun while blocking out the high summer sun. Ready to be engulfed by deciduous vines, this pergola will provide a shady outdoor room. Operable external venetian blinds provide adjustable summer sun control to the whole house.
The king post truss is an expression of the values of doing more with less – efficiently achieving a large span with a low embodied energy. An engineered solution using natural materials detailed beautifully. The timber of the truss and rafters express the structure while providing natural warmth. The angled struts of the truss geometrically echo of the branches of the back yard tree. Built in booth seating provides cosiness while efficiently using small spaces. The green palette of the interiors against the natural materials and light creates a tranquil retreat from the busy world. The sustainable structural ethos pervades throughout. There are no structural steel columns, beams or portal frames using instead 170x170mm hardwood posts. No concrete slab, only the sub-floor stumps. This ethos follows with solar power generated on site.
From the client:
The design benefits our lives in the way it uses vast amounts of natural light to open up the living spaces. As a small home it creates that sense of space that we were looking for. The large open range sliders connect the entire house to the backyard and create full use of the entire block to entertain and relax in. We have also created separate work spaces in the house with the use of a dedicated office space and library space to enable us both to work from home in the new hybrid working model.