Fannie Bay, Darwin
This house redefines tropical architecture in the Northern Territory.
Our client sought a long-term family home on a flat site at Fannie Bay in Darwin. Rather than the lightweight, ‘timber and tin’ solution common to residential architecture in the tropics, our client wanted a home that could feel solid and closed in the wet season, insulated from the extreme temperatures and humidity outside, whilst maintaining an ability to be opened to natural ventilation in the more manageable dry season. The design thus explores the creation of solidity in the tropics, with the house able to be both closed, highly insulated and mechanically ventilated, or open to breathe. The house is wrapped by textured off-form concrete walls and masonry - clad with either stone, render or Zinc cladding - selected for their low maintenance properties. To the street, the ground floor appears as a solid, textured base, with limited openings. A more open upper story cantilevers over this, with large concrete elements framing a long deck and windows with high-performance glazing. In the dry season, large sliding glass doors and windows can be opened to cool the house with local breezes and flow-through ventilation, aided by ceiling fans. The considerable floor area of the house creates a deep floor plate centred around a central, 2 storey living room void, conceived as an internalised courtyard - a spacious place to enjoy when the weather is too hot and humid outside. In more manageable weather, this central living space can be opened to the rear pool. At the opposite end, a bespoke, folded, perforated aluminium screen separates the central living space from the adjacent entry foyer. The screen was carefully designed and prototyped, with folds and perforations tuned for maximum strength to create a 9m x 3m, self-supporting veil, evoking a sense of lightness and allowing breeze penetration. Upstairs, the living, kitchen and dining are afforded extensive views over Fannie Bay. Harsh western sun is mediated via deep balcony space with fully operable louvres and blinds, coupled with high performance glazing.