Banksia House / Aphora Architecture
Text description provided by the architects. Drawing inspiration from the Banksia Integrifolia native to the site, the house responds to the challenges of living against the East coast of Australia. A robust, yet environmentally and economically focussed building, Banksia House emphasises the importance of custodianship through a heightened connection to ‘place’.
The initial sketch on-site mapped the existing trees on the block. Immediately we were intrigued by the native Banksia Integrifolia and its ability to withstand the harshest of coastal conditions. It thrives in poor quality and sandy soil types, can withstand bushfire and is capable of coping with insistent corrosive winds. This became a beautiful metaphor for the house and a framework from which to respond to the challenges of the site. Accordingly, this informed the building program, materiality and even detailing, resulting in a conscious and responsive building.
The built form is driven by a response to ecological systems – both human and non-human – native to the site. Consequently, the edge conditions of the building were carefully conceived and detailed as offerings to a broader context. High-level glazing heightens the connection to ever-changing weather patterns, time and the immediacy of flora and fauna.
Materials such as exposed blockwork, charred timber cladding, concrete and glazing were used to create a non-corrosive skin to the building and reducing the need for toxic paint finishes and continual upkeep by the client. The exposed blockwork was used to form the structural spine of the house but is also vital to the thermal comfort of the building. Large masonry blades brace the structure whilst simultaneously directing and buffering prevailing coastal breezes. Careful attention was given to the calculation of the deep eaves (which were designed with sun path modelling) to shade the blockwork and glazing in the summer months, whilst in the cooler seasons, the blockwork and internal areas are exposed to the morning sun. The thermal massing provided by the blockwork and slab on the ground regulating the temperature throughout the day.
Each room was planned with, at minimum, 2 windows at opposite adjacencies – Operable facades at these apertures allow for cross-flow ventilation which can be regulated manually by the occupants. Timber batten privacy screening with insect mesh allows for the home to ‘breathe’ 24 hours a day as well as heightening a connection to the sounds of the coastal location.
In many ways, the building is a wonderful reflection of the generosity and spirit of the clients. Rather than occupy the entire block with hard edges, the building blurs the line between public and private realms. The hard landscaping edges and fencing are deliberately held back from the street as an offering to neighbours – in particular, families making their way to the beach access across the street – which we felt was the key cultural centrepiece of the locale. Rather than squeezing past hard surfaces on your way to the beach, neighbours can comfortably wander across the lawn, under the canopy of the Fig, Tuckeroos and Banksias which the house was carefully built amongst.