The coastal geography present at the Croft House site in Inverloch, Gippsland, features consistent aggressive ocean winds, sending even the trees bending in the direction of the winds.
The design looks at the core idea of shelter in an exposed environment.
Using locally sourced Victorian timber was the best material choice available in achieving a sustainable outcome, while also providing strong structural, aesthetic, durability and low embodied energy outcomes. Coupled with the employment of local, regional skilled lamination workshops, Stockwell enabled the project to be delivered locally.
The impressive final outcome of the Croft House showcases the intimate relationship a building can have with its surroundings. The robust building shell opens up in a gesture to nature, but provides solid protection where needed.
Further to this, the house showcases the craftsmanship of the team of carpenters. Traditional joinery techniques like scarf jointed beams, mix with highly inventive modern joinery like the sine curve ring beam and convex and concave timber ceiling volume.
The steeply curved form creates a protected garden from which to view the sea and sky. The shelter is extended by the tapered facade buttresses, built with local renewable pine framing and ply bracing.
The plastic deformity of timber is not generally considered its most desirable characteristic, thought it is well and truly put on show at the Croft House, through the use of the spring bent 400x100 laminated Vic ash beams that achieve the sine curve perimeter.
The unique roof shape required significant geometric studies to map out the convex on one side and concave on the other. Computer generated scissor trusses were designed to support the curved elements, and allowed assembly and construction by local truss makers. The building elements were prefabricated from the computer drawings to minimise waste, and the roof shape was assembled in a single day for the laminated ring beam, and a single day for the roof trusses.
The low embodied energy of the locally sourced and renewable timber building frame adds an insulating layer to the large thermal mass of the internal rammed earth and concrete walls. The two thermal properties work together to create a high performance thermal envelope for passive living.
The necessary design outcome was to offer a hard wearing external shield, housing a more intimate internal timber and rammed earth cocoon. The beachside location and adjacent small lake present a beautiful location for the home, but one that required a sensitive approach to nature.
An ‘upturned boat’ is the metaphor of choice for Stockwell, evoking a warm and protective environment amidst rough conditions.
The shell is entirely clad in zinc, which has excellent resistance to water and rust.
The interior features a minimal palette of 2-3 materials. Plywood timber lining features next to the thick blade walls of rammed earth, which provide the necessary thermal mass, along with the concrete slab.
The highly reflective polished concrete maintains a warm glow inside, infusing a homeliness to the often cold material. The timber lined roof adds to this glow by contributing a yellow hue.
The unusual roof geometry becomes the most intriguing inside the home. The curved central beam directs the eye through the home, gesturing movement through the space. The concave side of the roof embraces the central courtyard, inviting constant attention to nature.