Here’s another house designed to supply all of its own needs in the harsh Australian outback in an uncertain climate future: Kangaroo Valley House.
This home away from home is designed by the prolific Australian architect Alexander Michael to manage and thrive completely on its own.
(Michael is a bit of a survival fetishist: he makes his pied a terre in the city in a reconstituted nuclear missile silo!)
But this is his cheery holiday home for friends in the outback. Completely open to the elements, it is designed to scoop up all the possible air to cool itself. The solar power on the site supplies the basics; there is no air conditioning.
The entire roof acts as a rainwater catchment device, designed to funnel every last drop directly down into the giant cisterns in the back. Not only that, the rainwater-harvester roof is engineered to cool the house below with shade, because it is not attached to the house itself: an airway passes right through between the two roofs.
The top roof also makes possible this heavy slab of concrete with no support at the edge. The concrete slab in front is suspended from the roof. The top roof is supported on posts right in the reflection pool.
Inside, no walls obstruct the airflow. Virtually every wall can open to allow the passage of air. And if that exposes the plumbing? Who cares.
As Michael says: “The thing I love most about design, whether it’s a mechanic’s tool or a multi-story building, is to see how it’s put together and what makes it work. When these features of machinery are denied by covering up, or burying out of sight for no other reason than decorative, then I think is a terrible waste. I guess it’s the same reason I love to stare at the skeletons of great whales, or fish, or humans; it’s all architectural machinery, its function is to support, and it’s beautiful.
In this climate, it is a pleasure to walk outdoors to the sleeping quarters. This simple house supplies its own water, power and air conditioning in a harsh climate. Maybe we can be self sufficient. Our houses can be designed to supply these needs and protect us from climate change. Other Australian architects have gone here before: the house designed to survive wildfire is an example. This is a new development in architecture: design for climate-change survival.