Croft House by James Stockwell Architects is a small holiday house that clings to the wind swept South Coast of Victoria Australia. Designed in response to the natural forces surrounding its coastal location. It uses the harmonic sine curve geometry to form a protective shape that is in turn sculpted for views, so at once protective, shield like and open and embracing.
The name of the project, Croft House, comes from the term “croft,” which is a small, agricultural landholding with a dwelling for a crofter, who is usually a tenant farmer. A croft house (for example in Scotland) is typically located on a site that experiences extreme weather and takes the form of a long, low-slung cottage deeply responsive to its landscape. James has designed the Croft House to be similarly land-hugging in response to the wild weather on site, and it is intrinsically connected to its location. As James says, “the house is shielding, robust and embracing.”
The form is experienced internally and externally as a single sculptural shape. The house distorts mathematical and structural sine curves to a particular shape to achieve the interior function and shelter so form and function become one.
The form puts its ‘collar up to the wind’. The small material pallet of grey zinc corrugated metal (the language of the rural context) and concrete, blend with the muted shale geology. It is constructed of local compressed sand walls and the entire structure and finishes are of local timber (both 0.5MJ/KG).
It illustrates the suitability of local low embodied energy materials in contemporary architecture and that architecture, to be able to tell a story of it’s place.
The exterior of the Croft House is entirely clad in zinc, which reinforces the language of the rural context and creates an exterior that looks somewhat like a spaceship or some other futuristic dwelling.
The lighting is seamlessly integrated with the architecture which seems simple, but due to the complex elliptical nature of the roof structure took quite some detailing and testing. To meet the building’s green aspirations, environmentally sensitive LED fittings are used throughout. The most dynamic of these is the continuous run of perimeter LED extrusion concealed behind a timber laminated beam. This provides the residence’s primary source of lighting. This solution also ensured the sculptural form of the twisting, timber-clad ceiling was not interrupted.
James Stockwell Architect:
Along the South coast of Victoria near Inverloch, the geography turns away from the prevailing wind. The house forms a protected garden from which peripheral vision of the sea and sky is permitted by tapered facades.
“Full outlook to and shelter from the coastal vistas in all directions and to be part of the landscape. An unobtrusive unembellished ‘best practice’ home of how to blend in and live together with a magnificent natural environment.” – The owners request
The design looks at the core idea of shelter in an exposed environment, and that shelter may contain all the necessary activities of domestic life in an uncompromised way but that the activities are enhanced by participating in the whole and each yields to the other to a much greater extent. It is shielding, robust and embracing.
It sets out primarily to achieve the expectations of the owners. It reinforces the language of the rural context of corrugated iron and purposefulness.
More broadly itʼs ambitions are to illustrate the suitability of low embodied energy local materials in contemporary architecture and that architecture be able to tell a story of place and vernacular of local craftsmanship and materials.
The small material pallet of grey metal and concrete blends with the muted shale geology. The protective exterior is warmed internally by compressed sand thermal mass walls as a fragment of distant sand dunes. The interior structure and joinery is of Vic ash timber and wet areas in bluestone, all Victorian supplied (low food miles).
The design process adopts the 1950ʼs modernist philosophy of ʻplastic integrityʼ as well as the concept of architecture as a field of energies and flows. The form of the house distorts mathematical and structural curves to achieve the interior purpose. The adopted geometry and composition of three sine curves means details are achievable with 2 dimensional radii. Both concave and convex roof surfaces are 2 dimensional planes and constructed from conventional battens and rafters and corrugated metal. Softwood scissor trusses were erected in 2 days on ʻin planʼ arch ring beams of laminated timber braced by the remnant buttresses. Laminated timber beams most aptly suited the formation of the sine curve form of the building courtyard shape, the natural curve of material ductility.
Project name: Croft House
Location: 180 Cape Paterson-Inverloch Rd, Inverloch Victoria 3996, Australia
Coordinates: -38.658836, 145.677551
- Type By Characteristic: Holiday House
- Type By Site: Hill House, Ocean House
- Type By Size: Medium House – (201 sqm – 450 sqm)
- Type By Materials: Concrete House
Total floor area: 270 sqm
Completion Year: 2013
Client / Owner / Developer: Glenn and Kathryn Morris
Architects: James Stockwell Architect – PO Box 220, Surry Hills NSW 2010, Australia
Design: James Stockwell
Builder: David Martin
Engineer: Meinhardt Group
Environmental engineer and lighting: Meinhardt Group
Text Description: © Courtesy of James Stockwell Architect, Australian Good Design Award
Images: © James Stockwell Architect, John Gollings, James Archibald