Perched on top of an exposed ridge in Central Victoria, Elemental House by Ben Callery Architects is an off-grid retreat that encourages a simple lifestyle to deepen the connection with the raw natural beauty of the surrounding landscape.
Located on a 100-acre site an hour outside Melbourne, both client and architect explored the property to find the most idyllic spot in which to place the home. The final location chosen is on a hill that is blessed with sweeping panoramic views over a steep valley towards Mount Piper. Despite the picturesque position, the property lacked essential services, therefore the house was required to produce and store its own power, collect rainwater, and treat wastewater all on-site.
The location of the home also meant that it would be exposed to severe Australian weather, including strong winds, harsh summer sun and potential bush fires. Rather than shy away, the house embraces the elements, allowing them to influence the design. A natural palette of materials was used to complement the surroundings. Sustainably sourced spotted gum was used on both the exterior and interior. On the exterior, the gum provided a durable and bush fire-resistant facade that will age gracefully, while on the interior it will hold its young natural appearance creating an ever-changing contrast between the inside and out.
Passive solar design also played a significant part in the overall aesthetic and materiality. Deep eaves were used to provide shading from the sun in summer, while polished concrete floors act as a thermal mass during the winter months. Operable windows throughout provide cross ventilation and natural cooling, while offering expansive views in all directions.
Elemental House shuns much of the excess of modern life without sacrificing a sense of comfort. With both the functionality and materiality being driven by the surrounding environment, Elemental House has a deep connection to the landscape, providing a truly immersive experience of nature from an inviting position of refuge.