Detached House Principles

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  • principles principles of of

    subtropical subtropical design for design for detached detached houseshouses

    The Subtropical Home is a special place with a unique character:

    The Subtropical Home encourages an informal and relaxed lifestyle. The Subtropical Home responds to the local weather patterns

    appropriately. The Subtropical Home utilises local resources sustainably. The Subtropical Home connects us with our landscape and outdoor

    activities. The Subtropical Home contributes to the character of the

    neighbourhood. The Subtropical Home respects the importance of water in our

    community. The Subtropical Home benefits from vegetation.

  • Contents

    Introduction 3

    Summary Principles 7

    Detailed Principles 15

    February 2005

  • 2


    This material was produced with funding from the Centre for Subtropical Design, a partnership between Brisbane City Council and the Queensland University of Technology.


    This Report is provided for information only. The authors, Queensland University of Technology, Brisbane City Council, The Centre for Subtropical Design at QUT (the publishers) do not accept liability to any person for the information or advice provided in this publication or incorporated into it by reference. The publishers therefore expressly exclude any representations or warranties concerning the currency, accuracy, completeness or suitability of the content of this Report. Users accept the sole responsibility and risk associated with any use of the content, irrespective of the purpose of such use. The publishers disclaim all responsibility and liability for any expense, damage, loss or costs which may be suffered or incurred as a result of use of or reliance on the content. In no circumstances shall the publishers be liable for any special, consequential or indirect loss of damage arising from any use of or reliance on the content of the Report, even if aware of the possibility of such loss. The information in the Report is provided on the basis that all persons using this publication undertake responsibility for assessing the relevance and accuracy of its content.

    The content of this Report is Copyright. Other than for the purposes of, and subject to the conditions prescribed under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth), no part of this Report may, by any means (magnetic, electronic, optical, printing, photocopying, or otherwise), be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, transmitted, broadcast or published without prior written permission.

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    In nature we encounter experiences that stretch across generations, and such experience is shaped by its historical, environmental and cultural fabric.

    This project is about the identification of our unique subtropical character and the values inherent in the siting, experiences, memory, structure and materials that make up the architecture of the detached dwellings many of us live in. It is about incorporating this character and these values that not only define a place, but also provide experiences that have united generations into the fabric of our South East Queensland homes.

    More fundamentally, when entering SEQ, the merging of architecture and landscape announces an encounter with a special, unique place. We need to balance the suburban sameness by and large produced by the project home market with a human-scale, sustainable architecture that will fold into its subtropical surrounds.

    In seeking to identify key elements for a subtropical home it is important to realise that communities are supported by places and recurrent landscape elements that clearly speak their identity. These may be derived from the historic responses to the natural setting, patterns of land use and social activity that over time have shaped the areas lifestyle and form. The character of a subtropical home is distinct and sometimes subtle, yet immediately recognisable as a special place by residents and visitors alike.

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    Subtropical South East Queensland provides a place for rich contact with natural systems and distinctive settings. If SEQ grows in a form responsive to this setting, we will add meaning, as we become aware of the presence and beauty of the area in our daily activities. To make this happen, design principles and guidelines may help to give direction to the regions development. On a regional and neighbourhood level, scenic landmarks and views must be preserved and created, and natural connections must be enhanced. On a more intimate scale, places must take shape that enhance and integrate into the landscape. Most importantly, ecological connections must be maintained to protect natural systems and human scale connections must be designed to create places that sustain the environment and foster community.

    The Centre for Subtropical Design, a joint partnership between QUT and BCC, and the architectural firm of Bligh Voller Nield have collaborated in the production of this document.

    The illustrations focus on the concept and design of the Brisbane Sustainable Home, a demonstation project by the Australian Green Development Forum, supported by the BCC. The project team for the Brisbane Sustainable Home have therefore also contributed to this document:

    Architect - Bligh Voller Nield Landscape and Ecology Consultants - Yurrah Civil and Hydraulic Engineers - Bligh Tanner Services and Thermal Engineers - Lincolne Scott Builder - Natural Lifestyle Homes Project Managers - Urban Blueprint

  • summary summary principlesprinciples

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    The Subtropical Home encourages an informal and relaxed lifestyle

    Seamless indoor/outdoor living: large verandahs, shaded decks Home raised up off the ground: suits hilly terrain, less susceptible to floods, better protected from pests and catches the

    breeze Open plan living: cross ventilation essential for relief from heat and humidity

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    The Subtropical Home responds to the local weather patterns appropriately

    Orientation takes advantage of solar access, prevailing breeze, and views Large openings catch the cool breezes in summer Shaded windows and walls protect from summer sun and rain Construction details for a cooler house: high ventilated roof, wide eaves, insulation, lightweight, masonry only if fully

    shaded, light coloured roof and walls Spaces are illuminated with abundant natural light Capture suns warmth during winter

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    The Subtropical Home utilises local resources sustainably

    Design the home for standard sizes to minimise waste materials Consider using locally produced materials Select appropriate sustainable building materials and resources Choose building materials with low embodied energy Use durable products and materials Incorporate recycled materials

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    The Subtropical Home connects us with our landscape and outdoor activities

    Subtropical landscapes contribute to the character of subtropical living spaces The garden is part of the house: focus of living and outdoor activities

    Olivia Martin-McGuire

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    The Subtropical Home contributes to the character of the neighbourhood

    The front garden is a shady place for chats, greetings, or just watching the world go by Existing trees, native gardens and views enhance natural connections with the surrounds Celebrate the diversity and style of form of our subtropical streetscape

    Olivia Martin-McGuire

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    The Subtropical Home respects the importance of water in our community

    Roofs collect our limited and precious water resources in tanks for reuse Water features create habitats for native wildlife Irrigation is minimised: water wise garden, controllers, drip irrigation Water management strategies are integral

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    The Subtropical Home benefits from vegetation

    Areas surrounding the home are climate responsive: shady, sheltering, cooling A biodiverse garden supports habitats for native wildlife Soil is conserved: vegetation, erosion control, terracing Food producing landscapes are very rewarding Distinctly Queensland gardens may use the character of past gardens as a stepping off point to create gardens for the future Protects and restores the natural ecosystem Celebrates the senses - sound, sight, smell, taste

    Olivia Martin-McGuire

  • detailed detailed principlesprinciples

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    Indoor/outdoor livingMultiple pathways

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    The Subtropical Home encourages an informal and relaxed lifestyle

    Seamless indoor/outdoor living supports our informal relaxed lifestyle and makes for comfortable living in our subtropical climate. Include outdoor rooms to foster a direct relationship between the home and outdoor recreational landscape spaces. Such

    outdoor rooms may be a verandah, deck, courtyard, patio, gazebo and porch and these spaces together should make up 20% or more of the area of the home.

    Make indoor/outdoor living areas large enough to accommodate a variety of uses. They should allow space for a table, chairs, plants, BBQ and day beds, clothes drying etc. They would need to be 15-30m or more with a depth of at least 3.6m if possible for effective weather protection, flexibility of furniture layout and circulation.

    The outdoor room may have a dual purpose such as a sleepout that may be used for entertaining or storage (provided that outdoor rooms are added). The underneath of the house can be used for kids play, laundry, workshop, craft and hobby areas, storage or future extension of the home, fernery or shade house, or simply a used sitting area. The provision of insect/security screening that gi